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

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 The start of his shift usually involves a fair bit of cleaning, hosing down a portable public restroom in one of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhoods. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF Tenderloin toilet monitor honored for life-saving actions," 19 Apr. 2018 Physical exfoliants are scrubs, which slough away old cells with gritty substances and a touch of elbow grease, whereas chemical exfoliants use dead skin cell melting substances like glycolic or lactic acids to unstick stubborn cells. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How to Get Glowing Skin," 25 June 2018 The album promises to be a culmination of his powerful blend of his state’s various styles -- equal parts gangster, confessional and melodic -- and make YoungBoy the new torchbearer for a gritty tradition that includes Lil Wayne, Webbie and Boosie. Ryan Pfeffer, Billboard, "YoungBoy Never Broke Again On Why His First Album May Be His Ticket To Freedom," 25 Jan. 2018 In 2010, Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, a gritty film about an Ozark teen struggling to raise her younger siblings after their father disappears, launched Jennifer Lawrence to stardom., "Please Stop Calling This Actress "The New Jennifer Lawrence"," 3 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

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

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