noun (1)

Definition of grave

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1 : an excavation (see excavation sense 2) for burial of a body broadly : a burial place
2a : death sense 1a believes there is life beyond the grave


\ ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio) , in sense 3 often ˈgräv How to pronounce grave (audio) \
graver; gravest

Definition of grave (Entry 2 of 6)

1a : meriting serious consideration : important grave problems
b : likely to produce great harm or danger a grave mistake
c : significantly serious : considerable, great grave importance
d obsolete : authoritative, weighty
2 : having a serious and dignified quality or demeanor a grave and thoughtful look
3a of an accent mark : having the form `
b : marked with a grave accent
c : of the variety indicated by a grave accent
4 : low-pitched in sound
5 : drab in color : somber


noun (2)
\ ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio) , ˈgräv How to pronounce grave (audio) \

Definition of grave (Entry 3 of 6)

: a grave accent ` used to show that a vowel is pronounced with a fall of pitch (as in ancient Greek), that a vowel has a certain quality (such as è in French), that a final e is stressed and close and that a final o is stressed and low (as in Italian), that a syllable has a degree of stress between maximum and minimum (as in phonetic transcription), or that the e of the English ending -ed is to be pronounced (as in "this cursèd day")


adverb or adjective
gra·​ve | \ ˈgrä-(ˌ)vā How to pronounce grave (audio) \

Definition of grave (Entry 4 of 6)

: slowly and solemnly used as a direction in music


verb (1)
\ ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio) \
graved; graven\ ˈgrā-​vən How to pronounce grave (audio) \ or graved; graving

Definition of grave (Entry 5 of 6)

transitive verb

1a : to carve or cut (something, such as letters or figures) into a hard surface : engrave graved the dates of his birth and death on the headstone
b : to carve or shape with a chisel : sculpture
2 : to impress or fix (a thought, a memory, etc.) deeply
3 archaic : dig, excavate


verb (2)
graved; graving

Definition of grave (Entry 6 of 6)

transitive verb

: to clean and pay with pitch grave a ship's bottom

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Other Words from grave


gravely adverb
graveness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for grave

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb (1)

Antonyms: Adjective

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serious, grave, solemn, sedate, staid, sober, earnest mean not light or frivolous. serious implies a concern for what really matters. a serious play about social injustice grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude. read the proclamation in a grave voice solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity. a sad and solemn occasion sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness. remained sedate amid the commotion staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint. a quiet and staid community sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity. a sober look at the state of our schools earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose. an earnest reformer

Did you know?


Gravity has a familiar physical meaning but also a nonphysical meaning—basically "seriousness". Thus, something grave possesses gravity. You can refer to the gravity of a person's manner, though public figures today seem to have a lot less gravity than they used to have. Or you can talk about a grave situation, as in the example sentence. But even though Shakespeare makes a pun on grave when a dying character talks about being buried the next day ("Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man"), the word meaning "hole for burying a body" isn't actually related.

Examples of grave in a Sentence

Adjective This violation of school rules is a grave matter. His carelessness could have grave consequences. They have placed themselves in grave danger. I have grave doubts about this plan. suffering from a grave illness The judge issued his ruling with a grave expression. The French word père is written with a grave accent over the first e.
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First Known Use of grave

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1d

Noun (2)

1609, in the meaning defined above

Adverb or adjective

1683, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grave

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English græf; akin to Old High German grab grave, Old English grafan to dig

Adjective and Noun (2)

Middle French, from Latin gravis heavy, grave — more at grieve

Adverb or adjective

Italian, literally, grave, from Latin gravis

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Old English grafan; akin to Old High German graban to dig, Old Church Slavonic pogreti to bury

Verb (2)

Middle English graven

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Time Traveler for grave

Time Traveler

The first known use of grave was before the 12th century

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Statistics for grave

Cite this Entry

“Grave.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for grave


\ ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio) \

Kids Definition of grave

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a hole in the ground for burying a dead body


graver; gravest

Kids Definition of grave (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : very serious : important grave danger a grave discussion
2 : serious in appearance or manner a grave voice

Other Words from grave

gravely adverb


\ ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio) \

Medical Definition of grave

: very serious : dangerous to life used of an illness or its prospects a grave prognosis

More from Merriam-Webster on grave

Nglish: Translation of grave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grave for Arabic Speakers


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