Lookups spiked 2,000% from January 6-7, 2019
Gruesome was among our top lookups on January 6-7th, 2019, after a Dallas Cowboys football player suffered an injury in a game.
The day after suffering a gruesome injury to his left leg, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns offered a message of faith and hope about his recovery, predicting he would “come back on a mission.”
— Cindy Boren, The Washington Post, 7 Jan. 2019
We define gruesome as “inspiring horror or repulsion; grisly.”
Gruesome has been in use since around the beginning of the 18th century. The word is an alteration of the earlier growsome, which comes from an English dialect word meaning “to shiver” (grow, or grue). We also have an entry for grue, which is defined as “to shiver or shudder especially with fear or cold”; this word is now chiefly dialectal.
So did Fawdon a man of dreadful size,
Of threatning aspect, and iniquous eyes;
Seldom he smil’d, was gruesome to the fight;
And blood and batt’ry was his sole delight.
— The Minstrel Henry, A new edition of the life and heroick actions of the renown’d Sir William Wallace, 1770
Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.