\ˈgrān \

Definition of grain 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) obsolete : a single small hard seed

(2) : a seed or fruit of a cereal grass : caryopsis

b : the seeds or fruits of various food plants including the cereal grasses and in commercial and statutory usage other plants (such as the soybean)

c : plants producing grain

2a(1) : a small hard particle or crystal

(2) : any of the particles produced in a photographic material by its development also : the size of such grains in the aggregate

(3) : an individual crystal in a metal

b : a minute portion or particle

c : the least amount possible a grain of truth

3a : kermes or a scarlet dye made from it

b : cochineal or a brilliant scarlet dye made from it

c : a fast dye

d archaic : color, tint

4a : a granulated surface or appearance

b : the outer or hair side of a skin or hide

5 : a unit of weight based on the weight of a grain of wheat taken as an average of the weight of grains from the middle of the ear — see Weights and Measures Table

6a : the stratification of the wood fibers in a piece of wood

b : a texture due to constituent particles or fibers the grain of a rock

c : the direction of threads in cloth

7 : tactile quality

8a : natural disposition : temper lying goes against my grain

b : a basic or characteristic quality

c : a prevalent ideology or convention teaching against the grain


grained; graining; grains

Definition of grain (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : ingrain

2 : to form into grains : granulate

3 : to paint in imitation of the grain of wood or stone

4 : to feed with grain

intransitive verb

: to become granular : granulate

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Other Words from grain


grained \ˈgrānd \ adjective
grainless adjective


grainer noun

Examples of grain in a Sentence


bread made from whole wheat grain The machine grinds grain into flour. The farm grows a variety of grains. Anyone with a grain of sense knows that she's lying. There is not a grain of truth in what he said.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the new study, researchers were able to determine that shortly before he was killed, Ötzi chowed down on cooked grains and cured meat. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Before He Died, Ötzi the Iceman Ate a Greasy, Fatty Meal," 13 July 2018 Studies show that eating a vegan diet, chock-full of antioxidant- and fiber-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, may reduce your risk of cancer. NBC News, "Why Mark Bittman wants you to be a part-time vegan," 10 July 2018 The meals meet federal nutrition guidelines and are comprised of milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and meat or another protein. Courant Community, "Community," 10 July 2018 Often overlooked buns are stars here, brioche versions baked daily, with options for multi-grain and gluten free. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "America’s unique burger styles, and where to try them," 4 July 2018 Investors had marketed the 35-acre site as an ideal food manufacturing facility, offering a large wastewater treatment plant, rail access, silos for grain and other storage, as well as large refrigeration units. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Pillsbury plant in New Albany will re-open as a bottling company," 30 May 2018 Bun options: Brioche buns, a gluten free bun, white, multi-grain, and marble rye., "Erie Burger Co. in Avon Lake a newer place to grab a bite: Cleveland's Best Burger contest," 6 May 2018 Avoid foods high in saturated fats and adhere to a Mediterranean diet, which is high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Martina Schimitschek,, "Choosing foods good for the brain and heart," 25 Apr. 2018 Going against the grain in the region, López Obrador will seek to counter violence with mediation and reconciliation, instead of militarization and securitization. Martha Pskowski, The New Republic, "The Radical Amnesty Plan of Mexico’s Next President," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Within 15 minutes, a portion of this radioactive dust — mostly grains the size of salt or sand — would begin to fall directly on the city. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 The raw flesh of the fish is opalescent, fine-grained and smooth and nearly translucent, with a flavor to match. Ben Lowy, Smithsonian, "The Lionfish Have Invaded, But a Ragtag Army of Divers and Chefs Are Fighting Back," 23 May 2018 As in other full-size pickups at this price, the dashboard is largely made up of hard plastics, although their graining looks nice and most critical touch points inside the F-150 are made from softer materials. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "2018 Ford F-150 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 4x2 SuperCrew," 9 Mar. 2018 Very few interior panels are soft to the touch, but the vast expanses of hard plastic are nicely grained and don’t feel cheap. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "2018 Hyundai Accent," 24 Jan. 2018 The official data were not fine-grained enough to reveal such patterns. The Economist, "Punk scienceDo-it-yourself Science is taking off," 16 Dec. 2017 Because there were, on average, 20 routers in each station in the pilot, London’s data are quite fine-grained. Henry Grabar, Slate Magazine, "A brilliant experiment is helping the London subway find out how people really travel.," 16 Oct. 2017 That said, his big, coarse-grained, penetrating sound carried forcefully to the back of the house. John Von Rhein,, "Vocal sparks fly in Lyric Opera's riveting 'Rigoletto'," 8 Oct. 2017 Interior Features A simple dashboard is dressed up nicely with finely grained, soft-touch plastics and, on the Ultimate trim, open-pore wood veneer that looks upscale—although some materials aren’t as nice as those in rival luxury sedans. Michael Simari, Car and Driver, "2018 Genesis G80," 3 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of grain


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for grain


Middle English, partly from Anglo-French grain cereal grain, from Latin granum; partly from Anglo-French graine seed, kermes, from Latin grana, plural of granum — more at corn

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Statistics for grain

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grain

The first known use of grain was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for grain



English Language Learners Definition of grain

: the seeds of plants (such as wheat, corn, and rice) that are used for food; also : a single seed of wheat, corn, rice, etc.

: a plant that produces grain

: a small, hard piece of something


\ˈgrān \

Kids Definition of grain

1 : the edible seed or seeds of some grasses (as wheat, corn, or oats) or a few other plants (as buckwheat)

2 : plants that produce grain

3 : a small hard particle a grain of sand

4 : a tiny amount a grain of truth

5 : a unit of weight equal to 0.0648 gram

6 : the arrangement of fibers in wood

Other Words from grain

grained \ˈgrānd \ adjective


\ˈgrān \

Medical Definition of grain 

1a : a seed or fruit of a cereal grass

b : the seeds or fruits of various food plants including the cereal grasses and in commercial and statutory usage other plants (as the soybean)

c : plants producing grain

2 : a small hard particle or crystal (as of sand or salt)

3 : a unit of avoirdupois, Troy, and apothecaries' weight equal to 0.0648 gram or 0.002286 avoirdupois ounce or 0.002083 Troy ounce abbreviation gr

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More from Merriam-Webster on grain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grain

Spanish Central: Translation of grain

Nglish: Translation of grain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about grain

Comments on grain

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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