: deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
his grief over his son's death
: a cause of such suffering
life's joys and griefs
: trouble, annoyance
enough grief for one day
: annoying or playful criticism
getting grief from his friends
: an unfortunate outcome : disaster
used chiefly in the phrase come to grief
obsolete : grievance sense 2
Choose the Right Synonym for grief

sorrow, grief, anguish, woe, regret mean distress of mind.

sorrow implies a sense of loss or a sense of guilt and remorse.

a family united in sorrow upon the patriarch's death

grief implies poignant sorrow for an immediate cause.

the inexpressible grief of the bereaved parents

anguish suggests torturing grief or dread.

the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child

woe is deep or inconsolable grief or misery.

cries of woe echoed throughout the bombed city

regret implies pain caused by deep disappointment, fruitless longing, or unavailing remorse.

nagging regret for missed opportunities

Example Sentences

He has been unable to recover from his grief at his son's death. She was overcome with grief. the joys and griefs of our lives I've had enough grief for one day. Trying to fix the computer isn't worth the grief. He's taken a lot of grief from his friends. His friends have been giving him a lot of grief. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Joel's grief over the loss of Tess (Anna Torv) is manifesting as a cruel coldness towards Ellie. Randall Colburn,, 30 Jan. 2023 The decent, immediate human response is emotional: grief, sympathy, anger. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 30 Jan. 2023 The First Deep Breath, a family drama set in Philadelphia that explores grief and the winding path toward healing, is making its West Coast debut Feb. 1 at the Geffen Playhouse. Evan Nicole Brown, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Jan. 2023 Unfortunately, coming up with false justifications can prolong one’s grief instead of resolving it. Mark Travers, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2023 A day after footage of Nichols’s beating was released, experts say the Memphis case highlights a recent national history of grief, frustration and evolving attitudes about law enforcement accountability. Andrea Salcedo, Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2023 The process of writing my book was peeling away at an onion of pain: under the layers of shame, anger, and sadness was grief. Alisson Wood, ELLE, 27 Jan. 2023 Emotions spanned the spectrum from pure grief to anxiety while coming to grips with the void left by Bryant who was 69 at the time of his passing. Michael Casagrande |, al, 27 Jan. 2023 Perhaps designer Phillip Lim described the emotional disconnect best in a recent Instagram post about how to reconcile grief with this joyous time. Diana Tsui, Harper's BAZAAR, 25 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grief.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English gref, from Anglo-French gref, grief injustice, calamity, from gref, adjective heavy, grievous, from Vulgar Latin *grevis, alteration of Latin gravis — see grieve

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of grief was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near grief

Cite this Entry

“Grief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


: deep sorrow : sadness
: a cause of sorrow
: things that cause problems
enough grief for one day
: an unfortunate happening
the boat came to grief on the rocks

Medical Definition


: deep and poignant emotional distress caused by or as if by bereavement
Although, there is no consensus on the defining features that would distinguish normal and pathological grief, it is generally accepted that grief becomes pathological when the reactions are excessive, prolonged, or unresolved.Jaye Wald and Rosemarie Alvaro, The Journal of Rehabilitation
also : a cause of such suffering

More from Merriam-Webster on grief

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