gru·​el ˈgrü-əl How to pronounce gruel (audio)
: a thin porridge
[from to get one's gruel to accept punishment] chiefly British : punishment
: something that lacks substance or significance
the argument was thin gruel

Examples of gruel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His only diversion was to make pictures using the hard bits of grain collected from the meager gruel his jailers gave him. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 And yet: Well, there’s some pretty thin gruel on this one. Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 Some speculate his motive is to appear taller, speculation based on a relatively thin gruel of evidence that taller candidates do better than shorter candidates in American politics. Gabriel N. Rosenberg, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 When a late summer storm soaked Black Rock Desert this year, turning the alkaline dust of an ancient lake bed to a cement-like gruel, the angry internet learned that Burning Man exists. Hazlitt, 1 Nov. 2023 At the school, one of the nuns shoves her face into a bowl of gray gruel. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 9 Aug. 2023 That feels like very thin gruel. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 24 Jan. 2022 Yeah, most people just stick with the gruel. Ethan Simon, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2021 These were breed, dryer, freed, freer, greed and gruel. Erik Kain, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near gruel

Cite this Entry

“Gruel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


gru·​el ˈgrü-əl How to pronounce gruel (audio)
: a thin food made by boiling cereal (as oatmeal or cornmeal) in water or milk

More from Merriam-Webster on gruel

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