grit·​ty | \ ˈgri-tē How to pronounce gritty (audio) \
grittier; grittiest

Definition of gritty

1 : containing or resembling grit
2 : courageously persistent : plucky a gritty heroine
3 : having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism a gritty novel

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Other Words from gritty

grittily \ ˈgri-​tə-​lē How to pronounce gritty (audio) \ adverb
grittiness \ ˈgri-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce gritty (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Gritty comes from grit ("small hard granules"), which in turn derives (via Middle English) from the Old English word for "sand" or "gravel." Grit has been around since before the 12th century, but the first appearance of gritty in print in English was near the end of the 16th century, when it was used in the sense of "resembling or containing small hard granules." Grit entered American slang in the early 19th century with the meaning "courage or persistence," and, within about 20 years, gritty followed suit with a corresponding "plucky" sense. By the 19th century's end, gritty was also being used to describe a literary style that was rough and coarse.

Examples of gritty in a Sentence

I admire her gritty determination to succeed. The book describes the gritty realities of life on the streets. He gave us all of the gritty details of his divorce.
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Recent Examples on the Web Turn mixer to high speed and add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form and meringue is no longer gritty (18 to 20 minutes), scraping down bowl as needed. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, "Pavlova Is the Showstopping Dessert Your Menu Needs—Here's How to Make It," 3 May 2021 Second, bravo for Biden and others focusing on tangible, nitty-gritty — sometimes revolutionary — improvements in real people's lives. Nicholas Kristof, Star Tribune, "From Portland, a liberal's lament," 15 Apr. 2021 After a night of the judges telling people to work the stage, Chayce just sits up on his stool and pours his heart out (and his gritty, raspy voice), and everyone is sucked in. Maggie Fremont,, "American Idol recap: Katy Perry declares a contestant 'dangerous' as the Top 16 is revealed," 12 Apr. 2021 His gritty, energetic sound has had a lasting impact on rap music since the late 1990s. Aida Ylanan, Los Angeles Times, "After DMX’s heart attack, rapper’s fans rally with prayer vigil outside hospital," 5 Apr. 2021 Their gritty, physical victory over a physically gifted LSU team seemed to eliminate those., "A look at how the Sweet 16 stack up in the men’s NCAA Tournament," 23 Mar. 2021 The app also now features a setup wizard intended to ease the onboarding process for gamers who want to start sharing their escapades, but lack the knowledge needed to configure nitty-gritty settings. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "AMD's huge Radeon Software update is designed to make your life easier," 20 Apr. 2021 Those who have seen Skull Island and King of the Monsters a few times will likely have caught the nitty-gritty details (character names, origins of certain monsters, etc.) which connected Godzilla Vs. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, "5 Reasons ‘Godzilla Vs. Kong’ Smashed Pandemic-Era Box Office Records," 6 Apr. 2021 Furniture and other interior components tend to be gritty and rough: think of unpolished wood with a bit of edge to it. Ivana Chavez,, "Best rustic home décor," 22 Mar. 2021

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

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for gritty

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gritty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for gritty



English Language Learners Definition of gritty

: containing very small pieces of sand or stone : containing grit
informal : having or showing a lot of courage and determination
: harsh and unpleasant


grit·​ty | \ ˈgri-tē How to pronounce gritty (audio) \
grittier; grittiest

Kids Definition of gritty

1 : containing or like rough hard bits especially of sand
2 : showing toughness and courage
3 : harshly realistic a gritty story

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