: 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

Examples of grief in a Sentence

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 Because her arc ends up being something about grief. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 20 Nov. 2023 The Joyce Carol Oates who was writing a book about grief in her study appeared to have a separate existence from the woman who was taking walks and falling in love. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 One is a show about sitcoms and grief and all of that. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Nov. 2023 Five years after his death, those closest to him are left with grief and the bitter taste of a life sacrificed unnecessarily. John Leland, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2023 Swift expressed her grief about the incident via an Instagram story posted Friday night. Kenan Draughorne, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 The singer-songwriter previously expressed her grief about a fan who died at the singer-songwriter’s first Eras Tour concert in Rio on Friday night. Michaela Zee, Variety, 18 Nov. 2023 Starring in Six Degrees of Separation on Broadway at the time, Vance leaned on his New York theater community amid his grief. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 And the outpouring of grief following Chester Bennington’s tragic death in 2017 illustrated just how much Linkin Park has meant to people over the years. Jim Harrington, SPIN, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

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

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 28 Nov. 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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