grit·​ty | \ˈgri-tē \
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 \ adverb
grittiness \ ˈgri-​tē-​nəs \ 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

The film comes from longtime music video director Kevin Kerslake, who’s previously worked with Jett, and speaks with Jett herself for all the gritty details. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "New trailers: Slender Man, Alita: Battle Angel, and a heist film from RZA," 28 July 2018 The group is promising to lobby only for big-picture policies that bring consensus, not nitty-gritty regulations that would pit one set of interests against another. Dan Adams,, "Trade group forms to represent marijuana industry," 4 May 2018 Some nitty-gritty spring cleaning tips Here are more tips on places in your home to clean from Tim Denno and Dormie Roberts. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Spring cleaning: A spotless, well-organized home is your reward," 4 May 2018 Drug gangs had been terrorizing citizens in this gritty city, across the border from McAllen, dragging people from their cars at gunpoint. Aaron Nelsen, San Antonio Express-News, "Tamaulipas security forces struggle to rein in drug cartel fighting," 3 Feb. 2018 Soho then was a gritty neighborhood of warehouses and loft rentals. Marc Myers, WSJ, "The Story Behind Joe Jackson’s ‘Steppin’ Out’," 13 June 2018 Anderson is a solid defender, improved three-point shooter and gritty player. Keith Pompey,, "If Bryan Colangelo is fired, how will his Sixers' tenure be remembered?," 2 June 2018 In one video, Feeley, in jeans and a black T-shirt, visited a tiny open-air barbershop, beneath a highway overpass in the gritty neighborhood of El Marañón. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "The Diplomat Who Quit the Trump Administration," 19 May 2018 Miami was supposed to be a passable foil, with experienced, gritty players and a penchant for making opponents uncomfortable when things start to matter. Jeremy Woo,, "The Sixers Passed Their First Test With Relative Ease," 24 Apr. 2018

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

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for gritty

The first known use of gritty was in 1598

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More Definitions for gritty



English Language Learners Definition of gritty

: containing very small pieces of sand or stone : containing grit

: having or showing a lot of courage and determination

: harsh and unpleasant


grit·​ty | \ˈgri-tē \
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

Spanish Central: Translation of gritty

Nglish: Translation of gritty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gritty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gritty

What made you want to look up gritty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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