: deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
his grief over his son's death
: a cause of such suffering
life's joys and griefs
: trouble, annoyance
enough grief for one day
: annoying or playful criticism
getting grief from his friends
: an unfortunate outcome : disaster
used chiefly in the phrase come to grief
obsolete : grievance sense 2
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 Prior to his death, Cloud's family said the young actor was struggling with the grief of losing his father. Doha Madani, NBC News, 21 Sep. 2023 And now, on top of this enormous and unimaginable amount of collective grief, the island is facing an additional crisis: an economic crash. Annie Daly, Vogue, 20 Sep. 2023 They’ve been filled with grief and perpetual waiting. Blake Turck, Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2023 The student has sustained permanent and continuing injury to his nervous system, causing physical pain and mental suffering — including grief, worry and shock — according to the complaint. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2023 Some have already moved on to a new stage of planetary grief. Jason Horowitz,, 16 Sep. 2023 Overcome with grief and anger, Sheneen McClain went days later to the location where her son’s life was taken. Audra D. S. Burch, New York Times, 15 Sep. 2023 No moment caused as much grief among House Democrats as having to swallow the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act. Paul Kane, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Sep. 2023 Thus begins the spiral of anger, confusion and sadness that is The King, the indie singer-songwriter’s masterful expression of grief. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near grief

Cite this Entry

“Grief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: deep sorrow : sadness
: a cause of sorrow
: things that cause problems
enough grief for one day
: an unfortunate happening
the boat came to grief on the rocks

Medical Definition


: 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
also : a cause of such suffering

More from Merriam-Webster on grief

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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