Gretna Green

noun
Gret·​na Green | \ ˌgret-nə-ˈgrēn How to pronounce Gretna Green (audio) \

Definition of Gretna Green

: a place where many eloping couples are married

Did You Know?

In the England of the 1700s, a person could not marry without parental consent until age 21. The Scottish were more lenient, allowing young people to marry without parental permission at 16. England also had rules that made it difficult to marry quickly, but Scottish law required only that couples declare their desire to be married in front of witnesses before tying the knot. So it isn't surprising that many English couples ran to Gretna Green, a small village on the English-Scottish border, when they decided to elope. In Gretna Green, the wedding ceremony was typically performed by the blacksmith at a roadside tollhouse, but it was all perfectly legal.

First Known Use of Gretna Green

1813, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Gretna Green

Gretna Green, village in Scotland

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about Gretna Green

Time Traveler for Gretna Green

Time Traveler

The first known use of Gretna Green was in 1813

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about Gretna Green

Statistics for Gretna Green

Cite this Entry

“Gretna Green.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Gretna%20Green. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on Gretna Green

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with Gretna Green

Comments on Gretna Green

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!