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 His visit to that secret redoubt sets in motion a quest for answers that unveils a dark pastJust as Sempere guides us through a gritty Barcelona of bygone days, his son, Julián, nudges us to reckon with what Barcelona has become. Washington Post, "Carlos Ruiz Zafón leaves behind characters who will never die," 22 June 2020 The book gets into the nitty-gritty of each aspect of safeguarding the right to vote: voter registration, access to the ballot box, ballot counting, and even the importance of the U.S. Census in shaping the electorate. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, "Stacey Abrams: Safeguarding voting rights fights the ‘virus’ of systemic racism," 18 June 2020 Still, Da 5 Bloods is not a work of gritty realism. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Da 5 Bloods Is the Most Ambitious Film Spike Lee Has Ever Made," 12 June 2020 Sure, now that TV execs are bringing back everything from Full House to Twin Peaks, why not do a gritty reboot of your grandparents’ favorite procedural? Judy Berman, Time, "Cops Is History, Long Live the Detective Show," 11 June 2020 The reality show, which premiered March 11, 1989 on Fox, gave viewers a gritty window into the work of police officers on patrol in various cities. cleveland, "‘Cops’ canceled at Paramount Network; will A&E’s ‘Live PD’ return?," 10 June 2020 The Dallas Police Association is influential in city elections, while most anti-police brutality groups work from outside the system and are unfamiliar with the city’s raw, gritty politics. Dallas News, "Anti-police violence activists mad at Chief U. Reneé Hall should also turn anger toward Dallas City Council," 8 June 2020 Here’s another gritty series to satisfy your true crime hunger. Jeanne Jakle,, "‘Perry Mason,’ ‘Queer Eye’ and 10 more new and returning TV shows to watch this summer," 4 June 2020 Here’s the nitty-gritty on materials, tools, and tips to get started. Kim Hutchison, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Mosaic: 3 Easy Projects You Can Make This Weekend," 3 June 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

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gritty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on gritty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gritty

Spanish Central: Translation of gritty

Nglish: Translation of gritty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gritty for Arabic Speakers

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