grue·​some ˈgrü-səm How to pronounce gruesome (audio)
variants or less commonly grewsome
: inspiring horror or repulsion : grisly
gruesome stories of wounded comrades
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 But in 1955, a gruesome crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans brought Mercedes’ motorsports involvement to an immediate halt. Bob Sorokanich, Robb Report, 17 Apr. 2024 After Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found dead following a gruesome slaying at her home in Brentwood, California, O.J. Simpson was arrested – following a police chase across LA that riveted millions of TV viewers across the country – and charged with their murders. Kimi Robinson, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2024 In gruesome footage posted by his captors, Goldberg-Polin is shown packed into the back of a truck, his arm blown off by a grenade. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 Sims performed gruesome vaginal surgeries on these Black mothers, sisters, and mere girls, some of whom had been raped by their slave masters, to learn how to fix injuries sustained during childbirth. Dr. Sharon Malone, TIME, 9 Apr. 2024 The film is set in 1985, several years after the gruesome events of X, against the backdrop of the Night Stalker killings in Los Angeles. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 8 Apr. 2024 In the hours after the strike, gruesome videos circulated on social media, showing the vehicles’ insignia. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2024 By recognizing Sweeney as the barber who once lived above her shop, relaying the news of his wife’s apparent suicide and putting a razor in his hand, Mrs. Lovett sets in motion events that will end with a pile of bodies — and a gruesome answer to her pie shop’s meat shortage. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2024 Among all of its gruesome set pieces, culminating in Room 101 in the Ministry of Love, the novel’s most decisive act of torment is a simple glance in the mirror. Stephen Metcalf, The Atlantic, 5 Apr. 2024

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1700, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gruesome was circa 1700

Dictionary Entries Near gruesome

Cite this Entry

“Gruesome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


grue·​some ˈgrü-səm How to pronounce gruesome (audio)
: causing horror or disgust : horrible
gruesomely adverb
gruesomeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on gruesome

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