gru·​el | \ ˈgrü-əl How to pronounce gruel (audio) \

Definition of gruel

1 : a thin porridge
2 [from to get one's gruel to accept punishment] chiefly British : punishment
3 : something that lacks substance or significance the argument was thin gruel

Examples of gruel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The options for startups forced to raise money in down markets are so much thin gruel. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, 24 May 2022 Hazan, meanwhile, only knew how to make gruel for pigs. Mayukh Sen, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2021 And if this is the strongest stuff that Durham has, that's pretty thin gruel. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 17 Sep. 2021 The result, at worst, is work that reinforces reactionary ideologies, and, at best, is a kind of tasteless gruel that leaves no real impression behind. Reid Mccarter, Wired, 4 Sep. 2021 Their entire lives, these students had been fed the thin gruel of schooling without substance and readings without meaning in a system intended to train working cogs instead of designed to form decent and spirited people. Jeremy Tate, National Review, 6 May 2021 Seavey asked of a white dog who ate its pile of meat-gruel with exceptional neatness, leaving nothing but a tidy stain on the snow. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Mar. 2021 That’s pretty thin gruel compared with the Nasdaq initiative, suggesting that the exchange may have to fall into line now that Nasdaq has set the pace. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2020 Guards beat and sometimes killed their captives, who lived on a rice gruel that occasionally included bits of fish. Sig Christenson,, 25 May 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gruel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gruel

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gruel

Middle English grewel, from Anglo-French gruel, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English grūt grout

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The first known use of gruel was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

1 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gruel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for gruel


gru·​el | \ ˈgrü-əl How to pronounce gruel (audio) \

Kids Definition of gruel

: a thin porridge

More from Merriam-Webster on gruel

Britannica English: Translation of gruel for Arabic Speakers


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