grit·​ty ˈgri-tē How to pronounce gritty (audio)
grittier; grittiest
: containing or resembling grit
: courageously persistent : plucky
a gritty heroine
: having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism
a gritty novel
grittily adverb
grittiness noun

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Gritty comes from grit ("small hard granules"), which in turn derives, via Middle English, from an 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 with the meaning "courage or persistence" in the early 19th century, and 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.

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Reports of a rapidly changing world for unknown reasons underscore this gritty drama, a prequel to AMC’s uber-popular Walking Dead. Josie Howell |, al, 14 May 2023 With its stylish visuals, thrilling action sequences, and Carpenter's signature touch, Vampires offers a gritty and exhilarating take on the classic vampire tale that keeps viewers thoroughly entertained. Travis Bean, Forbes, 6 May 2023 The result of the gritty win was that FC Cincinnati moved to 2-0-1 in the young Major League Soccer season and remained undefeated. Cincinnati Enquirer, The Enquirer, 12 Mar. 2023 Now a gritty, gutty 66-60 semifinal win over the Horned Frogs on Friday in Kansas City has given Texas a chance at the Big 12 Championship title. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, 10 Mar. 2023 Only one part of that applies to Till the End of the Night, which slaps on the gritty textures of neo-noir and strikes the requisite genre poses, but seldom provides much emotional access to its characters. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Feb. 2023 Singaporeans mostly think of the gritty Joo Chiat suburb as a place to find great hawker dishes, like the coconut-tinged laksa at 328 Katong Laksa and the peppery crab at Eng Seng. Chris Schalkx, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Feb. 2023 Three key North Side lakefront wards stand on the precipice of change following last year’s exits of a trio of Chicago City Council members representing the Gold Coast north through the grittier and more diverse neighborhoods of Uptown and Edgewater to Andersonville. A.d. Quig, Chicago Tribune, 2 Apr. 2023 While house music was already popping when Todd Terry entered the scene in the late ’80s, the New York producer grabbed hold of the sound and evolved it — mixing house with breaks and hip-hop and forging an altogether grittier strain that became his signature. Katie Bain, Billboard, 24 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


grit entry 1 + -y entry 1

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gritty was in 1598


Dictionary Entries Near gritty

Cite this Entry

“Gritty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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