\ 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

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 grained (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 Amid the grains of volcanic material, tiny fungal threads were already burgeoning. Anchorage Daily News, "Mount St. Helens’ mysteries still astound scientists, 40 years after historic eruption," 18 May 2020 Most meal bowls begin with a grain such as pasta, rice or quinoa that's topped with fresh vegetables, some type of protein (beef, chicken, pork, fish or legumes) and drizzled with a sauce or dressing. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl is perfect make-ahead meal," 16 May 2020 Not much larger than a grain of rice, the chip monitors electrical signals from Burkhart’s primary motor cortex, the region of the brain responsible for voluntary movement. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "A Brain Implant Restored This Man's Motion and Sense of Touch," 27 Apr. 2020 These particles range in size from microscopic – a thousandth the width of a hair – up to the size of a grain of fine beach sand. The Conversation, oregonlive, "Here’s the science of coronavirus’ infectious aerosols, and how masks can help block them," 24 Apr. 2020 Meteors are mostly leftover particles from comets about the size of a grain of sand. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "When to see the 2020 Lyrids meteor shower," 20 Apr. 2020 Apply your stain using a natural bristled brush going with the grain of the wood. Ashley Leath, Country Living, "How to Stain a Deck Like a Pro," 17 Apr. 2020 Greer's analysis utilized just one single grain of soil, about as wide as a human hair. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Single grain of moon dust from Apollo 17 mission holds millions of years of lunar secrets," 7 Feb. 2020 One of the oldest surviving texts, the Hammurabi code, includes elaborate price and wage controls: 2.5 grains of silver per day for a rowing boat, six for a labourer. The Economist, "Why price controls are so uncontrollably persistent," 9 Jan. 2020 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

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for grain


How to pronounce grain (audio)

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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