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

San Jose, California, police charged 90-year-old Anthony (Tony) Vincent Aiello in the gruesome death of his 67-year-old stepdaughter after obtaining dramatic health data recorded by her Fitbit Alta HR device. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Fitbit data used to charge 90-year-old man in gruesome hacking murder case," 5 Oct. 2018 Days later, officers returned with a search warrant and cadaver dogs, and made the gruesome discovery. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Headless torso discovered in home fish tank confirmed as missing California bartender," 28 Sep. 2018 The brutality against Kachin people has been especially gruesome. Hollie Mckay, WSJ, "Myanmar Persecutes Christians, Too," 6 Dec. 2018 The three-day conference has been close to decimated by cancellations from Western speakers as details emerged about Khashoggi’s gruesome death. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "On the eve of the Saudi economic summit, we’re about to see just how damaged they are in Silicon Valley," 23 Oct. 2018 One last regular season game, between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, was particularly gruesome. Sean Gregory, Time, "The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers Give Us Reason to Put Our Faith in Failure," 13 Apr. 2018 Critics of the facility told the Free Press at the time that while deaths of the puppies were gruesome, being sent to the gas chamber wouldn't have been much of an alternative. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "In Detroit, puppies once were used as reptile food," 13 Mar. 2018 The most gruesome allegation is the double murder of Martin Ríos, a young teen, and his best friend, Karla Iveth Antúñez. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Mexicans, Hit by Murder Wave, Face Long, Often Futile Wait for Justice," 25 Dec. 2018 The arrival of another of Bob's accomplices (Michael Shamus Wiles), who makes his partner look positively gentle, drives the proceedings into even more gruesome territory. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Eat Me': Film Review," 5 July 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

15 Feb 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on gruesome

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gruesome

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gruesome

Spanish Central: Translation of gruesome

Nglish: Translation of gruesome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gruesome for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gruesome

What made you want to look up gruesome? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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