grave

1 of 6

noun (1)

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

grave

2 of 6

adjective

ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio)
in sense 3 often
ˈgräv How to pronounce grave (audio)
graver; gravest
1
a
: 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
3
a
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
gravely adverb
graveness noun
: 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")

grave

4 of 6

adverb or adjective

gra·​ve ˈgrä-(ˌ)vā How to pronounce grave (audio)
: slowly and solemnly
used as a direction in music

grave

5 of 6

verb (1)

graved; graven ˈgrā-vən How to pronounce grave (audio) or graved; graving

transitive verb

1
a
: 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

grave

6 of 6

verb (2)

graved; graving

transitive verb

: to clean and pay with pitch
grave a ship's bottom
Choose the Right Synonym for grave

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Israeli troops have exhumed graves, looking for the remains of Israeli captives, and have returned bodies of Palestinians to Gaza throughout the war. Daniel Estrin, NPR, 10 Apr. 2024 The 7-year-old saw granite and marble headstones jutting out from the grass near other graves, inscribed with epitaphs. Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 The United Nations reports mass graves and gang rapes, 18 million people at risk of starvation, and almost 10 million displaced within the country in addition to the 1.8 million who have fled to neighboring states such as Chad and South Sudan, which are themselves in dire straits. Andreas Kluth, The Mercury News, 10 Apr. 2024 Most of these women have gone to their graves, including my mother, not understanding their historic significance. Michelle Miller, CBS News, 6 Apr. 2024 The earthquake hit Taiwan as many people here were preparing to travel for Tomb Sweeping Day on Thursday, when, across the Chinese-speaking world, people mourn the dead and make offerings at their graves. John Yoon, New York Times, 3 Apr. 2024 In 2014, archaeologists in Germany unearthed the grave of a medieval boy with a strange object inside. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 2 Apr. 2024 The tribute opens with a shot of Johnson visiting his grandparents' grave at Diamond Head Memorial Park in Honolulu, Hawaii. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 2 Apr. 2024 At his grave, the scientists were surprised to find the emperor’s 1,500-year-old remains well preserved, including a nearly complete skull and several of his bones. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2024
Adjective
After Israel struck and killed seven aid workers last week -- an incident Israel called a grave mistake -- Biden threatened to change U.S. policy toward Gaza condition if Israel didn't do more to allow humanitarian aid inside the enclave. Anne Flaherty, ABC News, 9 Apr. 2024 China also expressed grave concern over American trade and economic measures that restrict China, according to the agency. Fatima Hussein and Ken Moritsugu, Quartz, 6 Apr. 2024 The strike on the aid vehicles is a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures. Daniel Estrin, NPR, 5 Apr. 2024 President Joe Biden expressed grave displeasure with Israel this week over the strike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, and a phone call between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday was reportedly tense. Hussein Ibish, The Atlantic, 5 Apr. 2024 Today, states like Texas are trying to blur the two areas of immigration policy, intruding on the power of the federal government to control the nation’s borders and to enforce federal immigration laws, with grave implications both for immigrants and for U.S. foreign policy. TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 In a video statement, the Israeli military called the attack a grave mistake. Peter Baker, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2024 More than 50% of the people in the US are deficient in Magnesium; this deficiency can have grave consequences. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 The man was seen on the helicopter’s thermal imaging camera clinging to the grave rock face of the cliff. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, 2 Apr. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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

Adjective

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near grave

Cite this Entry

“Grave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grave. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

grave

1 of 4 verb
graved; graven ˈgrā-vən How to pronounce grave (audio) or graved; graving

grave

2 of 4 noun
1
: a hole dug to bury a body in
2

grave

3 of 4 adjective
ˈgrāv,
 in sense 3 often  ˈgräv
1
a
: deserving serious consideration : important
a grave matter
b
: threatening great harm or danger
received a grave injury
2
: dignified in appearance or manner : solemn, serious
a grave and thoughtful look
3
: of, marked by, or being an accent mark having the form `
gravely adverb
graveness noun

grave

4 of 4 adverb or adjective
gra·​ve
ˈgräv-(ˌ)ā
: in a slow and solemn manner
used as a direction in music
Etymology

Verb

Old English grafan "dig, carve"

Adjective

from early French grave "important, serious, weighty," from Latin gravis "heavy, serious" — related to aggravate, gravity, grieve

Medical Definition

grave

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

More from Merriam-Webster on grave

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