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 Yet, for all the 1960s glamour, there’s also a gritty storyline about Beth’s ongoing addiction to tranquilizers and alcohol. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, "Your move: ‘Queen’s Gambit’ offers viewers more than good chess," 24 Nov. 2020 The gritty part here is that shelter decisions aren’t one-size-fits-all. Scott Burns, Dallas News, "Scott Burns: Is downsizing in retirement actually possible?," 20 Nov. 2020 The Green Wave has a gritty true freshman at quarterback in Michael Pratt. G Smith,, "Not there yet: Players, coaches want more from Tulane offense despite string of 30-point games," 18 Nov. 2020 This gritty sci-fi management sim is hard to leave—and impossible to forget. Simon Hill, Wired, "I've Played RimWorld for 700 Hours. I May Never Escape," 12 Nov. 2020 But gritty play, a tough defense and several strokes of good luck have Chicago just a half-game out of the NFC playoff field. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL 2020 midseason grades for all 32 teams: Who's aced the early slate?," 11 Nov. 2020 In a gritty corner of San Francisco, Peter Reinhardt is leading me past what looks like the site of an industrial accident. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Why investors are betting on Silicon Valley’s second climate boom," 8 Nov. 2020 Thanks to a talented cast and a gritty plot about the real world problems high schoolers face, teen drama Grand Army has become one to watch on Netflix. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, "The Cast of Netflix's 'Grand Army' Play 'How Well Do You Know Your Co-Star'," 30 Oct. 2020 A few weeks before that UConn-DePaul game, Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella watched his team put together a gritty effort at home against the Huskies, the Pirates leading by nine in the first half before Aubrey Griffin’s heroics sealed UConn’s win. Alexa Philippou,, "‘Why wouldn’t you want a program of that caliber in your league?’ Now in the same conference as the UConn women, Big East coaches are excited for challenge — and relish the opportunity," 28 Oct. 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

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gritty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 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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