Gretna Green


Gret·​na Green ˌgret-nə-ˈgrēn How to pronounce Gretna Green (audio)
: 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.

Word History


Gretna Green, village in Scotland

First Known Use

1813, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Gretna Green was in 1813


Dictionary Entries Near Gretna Green

Cite this Entry

“Gretna Green.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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