\ˈgrēf \

Definition of grief 

1 obsolete : grievance sense 3

2a : deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement his grief over his son's death

b : a cause of such suffering life's joys and griefs

3a : an unfortunate outcome : disaster used chiefly in the phrase come to grief

b : mishap, misadventure

c : trouble, annoyance enough grief for one day

d : annoying or playful criticism getting grief from his friends

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Choose the Right Synonym for grief

sorrow, grief, anguish, woe, regret mean distress of mind. sorrow implies a sense of loss or a sense of guilt and remorse. a family united in sorrow upon the patriarch's death grief implies poignant sorrow for an immediate cause. the inexpressible grief of the bereaved parents anguish suggests torturing grief or dread. the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child woe is deep or inconsolable grief or misery. cries of woe echoed throughout the bombed city regret implies pain caused by deep disappointment, fruitless longing, or unavailing remorse. nagging regret for missed opportunities

Examples of grief in a Sentence

He has been unable to recover from his grief at his son's death. She was overcome with grief. the joys and griefs of our lives I've had enough grief for one day. Trying to fix the computer isn't worth the grief. He's taken a lot of grief from his friends. His friends have been giving him a lot of grief.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Here the words, in Latin, ask God to have mercy, warn of God’s anger, speak of the grief that will attend the Last Judgment: Who can choreograph that? Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: At BalletX, a New Work Alive With Suspense and Surrealism," 13 July 2018 What better tribute to sports psychologist Ken Ravizza, who died Sunday night at age 70, than a thinking-man’s pitcher channeling the grief every Cubs player felt into a 109-pitch masterpiece? David Haugh,, "Kyle Hendricks' mastery of Giants suggests sabbatical over for 'The Professor'," 10 July 2018 Motivated by the grief of his wife's death, neuropsychologist and writer Broks weaves a mesmerizing web of memories, his own research, Greek mythology and the writings of famous philosophers to muse on the nature of awareness. Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "The True Point of Searching for Alien Life; the Misuse of Genetics and Other New Science Books," 3 July 2018 Fighting back against the grief, Auvinen confronted her choices. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Rough Beauty' recounts a poet's journey from self-reliance to community living," 22 June 2018 Starr Carter, his best friend, must deal with both the grief of losing a close friend as well as the stress of being the only witness of the incident. Emily Ables, Seventeen, "15 Life-Changing Books You Have to Read This Summer," 31 May 2018 During the press conference, Babchenko apologized for the grief his staged death had caused. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "A Russian journalist faked his own death to track down his would-be assassins," 30 May 2018 The new collection finds one of the daughters striving for her independence, desperate to overcome the grief that has enveloped her home for years. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, "Short Stories for Summer Reading," 23 May 2018 Instead, this episode is mostly about Anne, and how the extraordinary grief and upheaval in her life demands a supernatural remedy. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Why a Ray Bradbury Twilight Zone episode is the perfect thing to stream this weekend," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grief.' 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 grief

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for grief

Middle English gref, from Anglo-French gref, grief injustice, calamity, from gref, adjective heavy, grievous, from Vulgar Latin *grevis, alteration of Latin gravis — see grieve

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Learn More about grief

Dictionary Entries near grief







grief stem

Phrases Related to grief

good grief

Statistics for grief

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grief

The first known use of grief was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for grief



English Language Learners Definition of grief

: deep sadness caused especially by someone's death

: a cause of deep sadness

: trouble or annoyance


\ˈgrēf \

Kids Definition of grief

1 : very deep sorrow

2 : a cause of sorrow The dog was nothing but grief to its owner.

3 : things that cause problems I've had enough grief for one day.

4 : an unfortunate happening The boat came to grief on the rocks.


\ˈgrēf \

Medical Definition of grief 

: deep and poignant emotional distress caused by or as if by bereavement Although, there is no consensus on the defining features that would distinguish normal and pathological grief, it is generally accepted that grief becomes pathological when the reactions are excessive, prolonged, or unresolved.— Jaye Wald and Rosemarie Alvaro, The Journal of Rehabilitation, 1 Oct. 2004 also : a cause of such suffering

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Comments on grief

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