- stern and admitting of no appeasement or compromise: grim determination; grim necessity.
- of a sinister or ghastly character; repellent: a grim joke.
- having a harsh, surly, forbidding, or morbid air: a grim man but a just one; a grim countenance.
- fierce, savage, or cruel: War is a grim business.
Origin of grim
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for grim
The grim instability of shelter life is hardly a recipe for success under the best of circumstances.His First Day Out Of Jail After 40 Years: Adjusting To Life Outside
January 3, 2015
Alan Gross was in a cheery mood, having survived a grim five-year stint in a Cuban prison.Castro's Hipster Apologists Want to Keep Cuba ‘Authentically’ Poor
December 18, 2014
The medical record, from an Ebola case, made for grim reading, but Dr. Ian Crozier could not put it down.The Daily Beast’s Best Longreads, Dec 8-14, 2014
December 13, 2014
In a grim echo of Michael Brown, the white New York City cop who placed Eric Garner in a banned chokehold wasn't charged.After No Indictment for Eric Garner Killer, Is NYC the Next Ferguson?
December 3, 2014
And this is where the plague outbreak does resemble Ebola—as a grim reminder of the consequences of our global interconnectedness.Bubonic Plague Is Back (but It Never Really Left)
November 27, 2014
It was composed of the grim psychological laws that govern the abnormal.Viviette
William J. Locke
Andrew peered into the grim face of the older man; there was not a flicker of a smile in it.Way of the Lawless
This dart which I hold in my hand was once grim Death's own weapon.A Virtuoso's Collection (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
Grim, dour, silent, it waited for the beginning of hostilities.Quaint Courtships
His was a commanding physique, hard as the grim plains from which he wrested his living.Dust
Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
- stern; resolutegrim determination
- harsh or formidable in manner or appearance
- harshly ironic or sinistergrim laughter
- cruel, severe, or ghastlya grim accident
- archaic, or poetic fiercea grim warrior
- informal unpleasant; disagreeable
- hold on like grim death to hold very firmly or resolutely
Word Origin and History for grim
Old English grimm "fierce, cruel, savage, dire, painful," from Proto-Germanic *grimmaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German grimm, Old Norse grimmr, Swedish grym "fierce, furious"), from PIE *ghrem- "angry," perhaps imitative of the sound of rumbling thunder (cf. Greek khremizein "to neigh," Old Church Slavonic vuzgrimeti "to thunder," Russian gremet' "thunder").
A weaker word now than once it was; sense of "dreary, gloomy" first recorded late 12c. It also had a verb form in Old English, grimman (class III strong verb; past tense gramm, p.p. grummen). Old English also had a noun, grima "goblin, specter," perhaps also a proper name or attribute-name of a god, hence its appearance as an element in place names.
Grim reaper as a figurative way to say "death" is attested by 1847 (the association of grim and death goes back at least to 17c.). A Middle English expression for "have recourse to harsh measures" was to wend the grim tooth (early 13c.).
"spectre, bogey, haunting spirit," 1620s, from grim (adj.).