grue·some | \ ˈgrü-səm \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of gruesome 

: inspiring horror or repulsion : grisly gruesome stories of wounded comrades

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Other words from gruesome

gruesomely adverb
gruesomeness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for gruesome

ghastly, grisly, gruesome, macabre, lurid mean horrifying and repellent in appearance or aspect. ghastly suggests the terrifying aspects of corpses and ghosts. a ghastly accident grisly and gruesome suggest additionally the results of extreme violence or cruelty. an unusually grisly murder suffered a gruesome death macabre implies a morbid preoccupation with the physical aspects of death. a macabre tale of premature burial lurid adds to gruesome the suggestion of shuddering fascination with violent death and especially with murder. the lurid details of a crime

Examples of gruesome in a Sentence

The police report described the scene in gruesome detail. didn't stick around to hear the gruesome details of the car accident

Recent Examples on the Web

The case concerned a gruesome Missouri murder and a 17-year-old defendant, Christopher Simmons, who was convicted along with a friend of kidnapping a woman from her home and throwing her body over a bridge and into a river. Eric Tucker,, "A look at some of Justice Kennedy’s most memorable opinions," 28 June 2018 Every name would be on it but that of Rev. Jim Jones, the maniacal Peoples Temple leader who ordered the gruesome suicide-murder Nov. 18, 1978. Johnny Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, "Rockers rebuffed over RFK wake," 6 June 2018 Trump then appeared in Long Island, where several gruesome MS-13 murders took place, to again evoke the gang as a call for stricter immigration laws. Mari Uyehara, GQ, "What Trump Really Means When He Talks About Migrant Children, MS-13, and "Animals"," 30 May 2018 These gruesome deaths and the inhumane conditions of Tilikum's life sparked a public outcry. Irene Hsiao, Chicago Reader, "Why does a sea mammal evoke more sympathy than a black man?, asks Tilikum," 5 July 2018 To remember them, they were not given any justice and no one was held accountable for their gruesome deaths. Paula Rogo,, "Ugandan Women Step Out to Protest Rising Violence Against Women," 2 July 2018 A day earlier, the Islamic State claimed a gruesome attack on a school in Nangahar, in which the assailants killed three night watchmen, beheading two of them, and setting fire to the school. Sayed Salahuddin,, "Spate of attacks in eastern Afghanistan marks push by Islamic State militants," 11 July 2018 The state rested its case against Franklin Gebhardt, charged in the gruesome killing of a young black man, after two full days, one half day and, finally, one quarter of a day of testimony. Christian Boone, ajc, "Old doubts quashed, new ones raised as cold case killing goes to jury," 25 June 2018 Fifth season of the Inspector Morse prequel finds Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) in 1968, newly promoted to sergeant and investigating a series of particularly gruesome killings, while one of Oxford’s colleges plans the auction of a rare Faberge egg. Ellen Gray,, "TV picks: BET Awards, 'Endeavour,' 'GLOW' and more," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gruesome.' 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 gruesome

circa 1700, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gruesome

alteration of earlier growsome, from English dialect grow, grue to shiver, from Middle English gruen, probably from Middle Dutch grūwen; akin to Old High German ingrūēn to shiver

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Statistics for gruesome

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gruesome

The first known use of gruesome was circa 1700

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More Definitions for gruesome



English Language Learners Definition of gruesome

: causing horror or disgust


grue·some | \ ˈgrü-səm \

Kids Definition of gruesome

: causing horror or disgust Some of the potions had effects almost too gruesome to think about … —J. K. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets

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