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

Not much of that clarity, however, is evident in a mind-deadening, 252-page document that lays out the nitty-gritty elements of the bureaucratic changes in bewildering detail, mostly in glutinous prose. George Russell, Fox News, "Trump meeting with UN chief: Handshake or showdown?," 16 May 2018 Senia Despite being one of the more scenic cities in the country, Honolulu restaurants tend to hide behind oft-gritty, unassuming facades., "Bloomberg," 2 May 2018 The Jinxworld titles run the gamut of Mr. Bendis’s interests, from gritty crime dramas to stories about obsession, alternate worlds and the comics industry itself. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "For a Comic-Book Writer, ‘Superman’ and His Own Line Are Two Blessings," 26 Dec. 2018 Kin has no interest in being straight sci-fi, straight adventure, or straight gritty family drama. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Kin: If you can’t pick your family, hopefully you can find space weapons," 1 Sep. 2018 The series, which ran for six seasons and ushered in the era of gritty, critically acclaimed cable dramas, had a famously ambiguous ending. Brooks Barnes, New York Times, "‘Sopranos’ Creator Will Bring a Prequel to Movie Screens," 8 Mar. 2018 And The Revenant earned $58.6 million — a huge number for a gritty foreign drama in China — in the wake of Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar best actor win in 2015. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Three Billboards' to Get Limited Release in China," 22 Jan. 2018 The delicacy of these narratives may have clashed with the gritty realism of the 1970s and the muscular posh of the 1980s, but that was irrelevant to Redford. Marley Marius, Vogue, "An Ode to Robert Redford, on What May Be His Retirement From Acting," 25 Sep. 2018 The series frequently relies on shaky camera movements, oppressively dim lighting and a dream-like atmosphere to muddle the timeline, which is at odds with the gritty realism of the script. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: Amy Adams' 'Sharp Objects' needs to be sharper to make its point," 5 July 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

12 Feb 2019

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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
informal : 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

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