\ ˈgrān How to pronounce grain (audio) \

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 How to pronounce grain (audio) \ adjective
grainless adjective


grainer noun

Examples of grain in a Sentence

Noun 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 The breadcrumbs catch the extra moisture from the greens, or use cooked rice or another grain instead. Washington Post, "Customize this crispy, cheesy spinach pie any way you like it," 22 Apr. 2021 The other two fields are planted in vegetables and grain. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Bill Gates and other billionaires are doubling down on a surprising investment—and you can access it, too," 15 Apr. 2021 Consumers, meanwhile, are increasingly wise about something: Farmers feed their chickens grain and other crops to fatten them up, using huge amounts of land, water, and energy, and then slaughter them for meat., "Nothing to squawk at: Plant-based ‘chicken’ is pretty delicious — and on the verge of a major breakthrough," 13 Apr. 2021 Marleau’s prize catch was placed in a gunny sack, tossed in back of the suburban and whisked back with the family of five to their 1,600-acre grain and cattle farm in Aneroid, home to 75 people at the time. Ross Mckeon, San Francisco Chronicle, "Patrick Marleau, a family farm, an ornery rooster: How a Sharks legend was raised," 10 Apr. 2021 Another Irish whiskey brand with roots in the 18th century, this modern revival, by Diageo, is composed of 100+ malt and grain whiskeys that have benefited from time in ex-Bourbon casks. Brian Freedman, Forbes, "Eight Irish Whiskeys To Help Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day," 17 Mar. 2021 There, these algae feed additives can be churned into the cows’ grain and soy feed. Jan Dutkiewicz, Wired, "Want Carbon-Neutral Cows? Algae Isn’t the Answer," 17 Mar. 2021 Choose wood with minimal grain and tile with little to no texture. Merlisa Lawrence Corbett,, "How to bring a contemporary style into your home," 15 Mar. 2021 The process took time and dedication: hours to prepare the ale, sweep the floors clean and lift heavy bundles of rye and grain. Laken Brooks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Women Dominated Beer Brewing Until They Were Accused of Being Witches," 8 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb White Ash features more subtle graining while Black Ash has a dark grain that contrasts with its light background. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "How to Know Which Wood Flooring Type Is Right for You," 13 Mar. 2020 The cereal grains mixed with clover attract deer first while the brassicas stand tall and are accessible above snow in northern areas for late-season forage. Gerald Almy, Field & Stream, "How to Prepare Your Food Plots This Winter for Deer Hunting Success in the Fall," 14 Feb. 2020 Microphenomena, such as tornadoes, may be missed because models are not sufficiently fine-grained. The Economist, "Climate change could put insurance firms out of business," 17 Sep. 2019 Each one would resemble the (A) to (E) outline above, but would be much more finely grained. Quanta Magazine, "Why the Proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem Doesn’t Need to Be Enhanced," 3 June 2019 The surface appears to be very, very fine-grained. . . . Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "East Eighty-eighth Street and East End Avenue," 25 May 2018 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

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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Time Traveler for grain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for grain

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce grain (audio) \

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 How to pronounce grain (audio) \

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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