Grub Street


: the world or category of needy literary hacks

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The original Grub Street was an address in London (it was renamed Milton Street in 1830) described by Dr. Samuel Johnson in his Dictionary of the English Language as "much inhabited by writers of small histories, dictionaries, and temporary poems." The term was applied figuratively to the dog-eat-dog world of pens-for-hire as early as 1630, and not surprisingly it became the subject of several novels. Writer Tobias Smollett, all too familiar with hackwork himself, described a Grub Street dinner party in his novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771). And the allusion to Grub Street still packed a punch in 1891 when George Gissing chose New Grub Street as the title of his realistic novel about intrigues of the Victorian literary world.

Examples of Grub Street in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At cocktail bars across New York City, alcoholic drinks are taking inspiration from Italian subs and bacon, egg, and cheese bagels, New York magazine’s Grub Street reported on Monday. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 21 Nov. 2023 By and large, at least in New York City, the age of the celeb chef is behind us, New York magazine’s Grub Street reported on Tuesday. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 5 Sep. 2023 His work has also appeared in Gawker, San Francisco magazine, and New York magazine's Grub Street. Caleb Pershan, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Apr. 2023 The company’s portfolio of brands comprises Curbed, The Cut, The Dodo, Eater, Grub Street, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, NowThis, Polygon, Popsugar, Recode, SB Nation, Seeker, The Strategist, Thrillist, The Verge, and Vulture. Todd Spangler, Variety, 6 Feb. 2023 Vox Media is the owner of media brands including Vox, New York Magazine, The Verge, The Cut, Eater, Vulture, The Strategist, Polygon, SB Nation, Intelligencer, Curbed, Grub Street, Recode, Thrillist, Popsugar, The Dodo and NowThis. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Feb. 2023 Other career highlights include winning a Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Award as the Managing Editor of Grub Street Literary Magazine in 2020, and being able to write with her little rescue dog Peanut by her side every step of the way. Kaitlin Marks, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Jan. 2023 Speaking of elections and politics podcasts, don’t miss FiveThirtyEight elections host Galen Druke’s Grub Street Diet. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, 12 Sep. 2022 Chops run the gamut from leg of lamb to a pork porterhouse to more classic steaks—Grub Street reported that Gus’s will serve three cuts of prime dry-aged beef and a rotating bar steak. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 25 Aug. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Grub Street.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Grub Street, London, formerly inhabited by literary hacks

First Known Use

1630, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Grub Street was in 1630


Dictionary Entries Near Grub Street

Cite this Entry

“Grub Street.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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