\ ˈgrēf How to pronounce grief (audio) \

Definition of grief

1a : 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
2a : trouble, annoyance enough grief for one day
b : annoying or playful criticism getting grief from his friends
c : an unfortunate outcome : disaster used chiefly in the phrase come to grief
3 obsolete : grievance sense 2

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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

Volkswagen de Mexico chief executive Steffen Reiche was nearly overcome with grief. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "The Beetle, 81, is no more," 11 July 2019 English actress Florence Pugh, who expresses a maturity far beyond her 23 years, stars as Dani, a young woman wracked with grief over a devastating loss. Katie Walsh, Twin Cities, "Brilliant ‘Midsommar’ lets the sunshine in to horror," 4 July 2019 From Home, Peter is rocked with grief over Tony’s death, reminded at every turn that Iron Man still looms large. Shana Naomi Krochmal,, "How we got EW’s first-ever digital cover — spiders and all," 1 July 2019 Biden has been more open about his experiences with grief this time round on the campaign trail, frequently mentioning Beau and speaking intimately with bereaved voters. Marie Claire, "Joe Biden's First Wife, Neilia, and Daughter Naomi Passed Away In a 1972 Accident," 26 June 2019 The family was stricken with grief and felt uncertain about the future. Staff Writer, USA TODAY, "How a financial pro can be a game changer for middle-income Americans," 18 June 2019 Trenton's aunt, Alicia Piper, wrote on social media that the family was overwhelmed and overcome with grief. Max Londberg,, "Cincinnati child's drowning in Myrtle Beach underscores racial disparity in pool deaths," 10 June 2019 The days since his death have filled her with grief and left her unable to speak about her slain friend without breaking down into tears. Kaylee Remington,, "Man gunned down in Rocky River Reservation double homicide wanted to help children in need, friend says," 7 June 2019 Her mother, just 19 years old, was consumed with grief. National Geographic, "Life for this Bavarian princess was no fairy tale," 14 May 2019

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 3

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

Statistics for grief

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce grief (audio) \

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 How to pronounce grief (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on grief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grief

Spanish Central: Translation of grief

Nglish: Translation of grief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grief for Arabic Speakers

Comments on grief

What made you want to look up grief? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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