\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The historic state capital of Annapolis is draped in grief from the attack at the local newspaper that killed the journalists who chronicled soccer games, art exhibits and the fabric of small-city life. Fox News, "The Latest: Priest highlights work of 5 slain journalists," 30 June 2018 After John Booth was convicted of murdering an elderly couple, the couple’s son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter talked about their grief. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "The Rise of the Victims’-Rights Movement," 14 May 2018 Pan said Wang’s father banged his head against a wall in grief. Michael Mayo And Megan O'matz,, "Six minutes of shooting, 12 hours of waiting," 11 Mar. 2018 But when the #MeToo movement struck the Cadets, left behind was a group of members and alumni, shell-shocked and grief-stricken, who still cared deeply for the organization. Tricia L. Nadolny,, "Allentown's famed Cadets rise again after months of scandal and tumult," 3 July 2018 Green's daughter, when reached Thursday, said she and her younger brother are grief-stricken. Max Londberg And Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "KC-area mother was fatally shot while trying to 'save someone's life,' daughter says," 28 June 2018 Manage your current crisis with a therapist; accept and process your own grief in stages. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Successful son fails at relationship with mom," 28 June 2018 Without it, Ed’s family and friends were in limbo, unable to commence the public rituals that attend death, unable to get on with the private phase of their grief. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 Her grief might still be there, but right next to it will be tiny slivers of hope. Melissa Blake, Harper's BAZAAR, "To Kate Spade’s Daughter...From Someone Who Has Been There," 6 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about grief

Dictionary Entries near grief







grief stem

Phrases Related to grief

good grief

Statistics for grief

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grief

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!