grave

1 of 6

noun (1)

1
: an excavation (see excavation sense 2) for burial of a body
broadly : a burial place
2
a
: death sense 1a
believes there is life beyond the grave

grave

2 of 6

adjective

ˈgrāv How to pronounce grave (audio)
in sense 3 often
ˈgräv How to pronounce grave (audio)
graver; gravest
1
a
: meriting serious consideration : important
grave problems
b
: likely to produce great harm or danger
a grave mistake
c
: significantly serious : considerable, great
grave importance
d
obsolete : authoritative, weighty
2
: having a serious and dignified quality or demeanor
a grave and thoughtful look
3
a
of an accent mark : having the form `
b
: marked with a grave accent
c
: of the variety indicated by a grave accent
4
: low-pitched in sound
5
: drab in color : somber
gravely adverb
graveness noun
: a grave accent ` used to show that a vowel is pronounced with a fall of pitch (as in ancient Greek), that a vowel has a certain quality (such as è in French), that a final e is stressed and close and that a final o is stressed and low (as in Italian), that a syllable has a degree of stress between maximum and minimum (as in phonetic transcription), or that the e of the English ending -ed is to be pronounced (as in "this cursèd day")

grave

4 of 6

adverb or adjective

gra·​ve ˈgrä-(ˌ)vā How to pronounce grave (audio)
: slowly and solemnly
used as a direction in music

grave

5 of 6

verb (1)

graved; graven ˈgrā-vən How to pronounce grave (audio) or graved; graving

transitive verb

1
a
: to carve or cut (something, such as letters or figures) into a hard surface : engrave
graved the dates of his birth and death on the headstone
b
: to carve or shape with a chisel : sculpture
2
: to impress or fix (a thought, a memory, etc.) deeply
3
archaic : dig, excavate

grave

6 of 6

verb (2)

graved; graving

transitive verb

: to clean and pay with pitch
grave a ship's bottom
Choose the Right Synonym for grave

serious, grave, solemn, sedate, staid, sober, earnest mean not light or frivolous.

serious implies a concern for what really matters.

a serious play about social injustice

grave implies both seriousness and dignity in expression or attitude.

read the proclamation in a grave voice

solemn suggests an impressive gravity utterly free from levity.

a sad and solemn occasion

sedate implies a composed and decorous seriousness.

remained sedate amid the commotion

staid suggests a settled, accustomed sedateness and prim self-restraint.

a quiet and staid community

sober stresses seriousness of purpose and absence of levity or frivolity.

a sober look at the state of our schools

earnest suggests sincerity or often zealousness of purpose.

an earnest reformer

Example Sentences

Adjective This violation of school rules is a grave matter. His carelessness could have grave consequences. They have placed themselves in grave danger. I have grave doubts about this plan. suffering from a grave illness The judge issued his ruling with a grave expression. The French word père is written with a grave accent over the first e. See More

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English græf; akin to Old High German grab grave, Old English grafan to dig

Adjective and Noun (2)

Middle French, from Latin gravis heavy, grave — more at grieve

Adverb or adjective

Italian, literally, grave, from Latin gravis

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Old English grafan; akin to Old High German graban to dig, Old Church Slavonic pogreti to bury

Verb (2)

Middle English graven

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1d

Noun (2)

1609, in the meaning defined above

Adverb Or Adjective

1683, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of grave was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near grave

Cite this Entry

“Grave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grave. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

grave

1 of 4 verb
graved; graven ˈgrā-vən How to pronounce grave (audio) or graved; graving

grave

2 of 4 noun
1
: a hole dug to bury a body in
2

grave

3 of 4 adjective
ˈgrāv,
 in sense 3 often  ˈgräv
1
a
: deserving serious consideration : important
a grave matter
b
: threatening great harm or danger
received a grave injury
2
: dignified in appearance or manner : solemn, serious
a grave and thoughtful look
3
: of, marked by, or being an accent mark having the form `
gravely adverb
graveness noun

grave

4 of 4 adverb or adjective
gra·​ve
ˈgräv-(ˌ)ā
: in a slow and solemn manner
used as a direction in music

Medical Definition

grave

adjective
: very serious : dangerous to life
used of an illness or its prospects
a grave prognosis

More from Merriam-Webster on grave

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