Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective grate·ful \ˈgrāt-fəl\

Simple Definition of grateful

  • : feeling or showing thanks : feeling or showing thanks to someone for some helpful act

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of grateful

  1. 1 a :  appreciative of benefits received b :  expressing gratitude <grateful thanks>

  2. 2 a :  affording pleasure or contentment :  pleasing b :  pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated

gratefully play \-fə-lē\ adverb
gratefulness noun

Examples of grateful in a sentence

  1. The voice quacking at the other end of the line sounded surprised and grateful—a young man's eager voice, thankful for the sudden interruption on an otherwise empty afternoon. —Paul Theroux, Granta, Summer 1992

  2. I didn't have to be in love with the man to do this, and my poor body'd probably be grateful to get fed, since it'd been on such a starvation diet. —Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale, 1992

  3. Sergeant James Smith was a company clerk, which meant that he carried his commander's maps, Edwards was grateful to learn. —Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising, 1986

  4. I am grateful for the Latin I took and for the emphasis on English grammar, which seems to have faded from the curriculum. —John Updike, Hugging the Shore, (1983) 1984

  5. The college sent us a grateful acknowledgment of our donation.

  6. I'm grateful to you for your help.

  7. He's grateful for the attention.

Origin of grateful

obsolete grate pleasing, thankful, from Latin gratus — more at grace

First Known Use: 1552

Rhymes with grateful

GRATEFUL Defined for Kids


adjective grate·ful \ˈgrāt-fəl\

Definition of grateful for Students

  1. 1 :  feeling or showing thanks <I'm grateful for your help.>

  2. 2 :  providing pleasure or comfort <… the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose … — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol>

gratefully \-fə-lē\ adverb

Word Root of grateful

The Latin word gratus, meaning “pleasing” or “thankful,” gives us the root grat. Words from the Latin gratus have something to do with being pleasing or being thankful. To ingratiate yourself is to make others feel thankful for something you've done. To feel grateful is to feel thankful for something. Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness. To congratulate is to express how pleasing someone's success is.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up grateful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.