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 grittily (audio) \ adverb
grittiness \ ˈgri-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce grittiness (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 But underneath, in the legal nitty-gritty, the harm is greater still. Noah Feldman Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Barr's ploy to protect Trump against a defamation allegation is blatantly wrong," 10 Sep. 2020 Friendly sidekicks Mushu and Cri-Kee are gone, and the musical numbers have been cast aside in favor of gritty battle sequences. Minhae Shim Roth, Glamour, "Mulan Movie Review: The Live-Action Adaptation Wasn’t What I Expected—But I Still Felt Seen," 4 Sep. 2020 The series is a solid cop show that leans dark, gritty and somber. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 50 best TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime right now, from 'The Americans' to 'The Boys'," 1 Sep. 2020 Collaborating with artists like D’Angelo, Common, and Erykah Badu, the Roots made their name merging the seemingly disparate worlds of live jazz and gritty East Coast rap. Julia Carmel,, "Malik B., longtime member of the Roots, dies at 47," 1 Aug. 2020 Elder uses words like tough, gritty and leader in describing Rotello. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, "Moeller football ready to take season on the road," 28 May 2020 The movie stars Robert Pattison as the titular superhero and shows a dark, gritty, and violent new take on the iconic superhero. James Hibberd,, "The Batman hit by COVID-19 as filming shuts down again," 3 Sep. 2020 Before the walls of the COVID-19 pandemic fully closed in on college sports, the biggest questions surrounding the Tide’s 2020 season were more of the nitty-gritty, football variety. Mike Rodak |, al, "The big questions for Alabama entering fall practice," 17 Aug. 2020 The draw cycle may feel a bit bumpy or gritty, and there may be a little extra buzz after the shot. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "How to Buy the Perfect Compound Bow for Hunting," 12 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for gritty

Time Traveler

The first known use of gritty was in 1598

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gritty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for gritty


How to pronounce gritty (audio)

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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