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  1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: We watched her skate with effortless grace across the ice.
  2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment: He lacked the manly graces.
  3. favor or goodwill.
  4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school.
  5. mercy; clemency; pardon: He was saved by an act of grace from the governor.
  6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
  7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied: The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days' grace before the policy lapses.Compare grace period.
  8. Theology.
    1. the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
    2. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
    3. a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
    4. Also called state of grace.the condition of being in God's favor or one of the elect.
  9. moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.
  10. a short prayer before or after a meal, in which a blessing is asked and thanks are given: Grandfather will now say grace.
  11. (usually initial capital letter) a formal title used in addressing or mentioning a duke, duchess, or archbishop, and formerly also a sovereign (usually preceded by your, his, etc.).
  12. Graces, Classical Mythology. the goddesses of beauty, daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, worshiped in Greece as the Charities and in Rome as the Gratiae.
  13. Music. grace note.
verb (used with object), graced, grac·ing.
  1. to lend or add grace to; adorn: Many fine paintings graced the rooms of the house.
  2. to favor or honor: to grace an occasion with one's presence.
  1. but for the grace of God, under less fortunate circumstances: But for the grace of God, the brick that just fell from the roof would have hit me on the head!
  2. by the grace of God, thankfully; fortunately: By the grace of God, I won't have to deal with tax returns for another year.
  3. fall from grace,
    1. relapse into sin or disfavor.
    2. to lose favor; be discredited: He fell from grace when the boss found out he had lied.
  4. have the grace to, to be so kind as to: Would you have the grace to help, please?
  5. in someone's good/bad graces, regarded with favor (or disfavor) by someone: It is a wonder that I have managed to stay in her good graces this long.
  6. with bad grace, reluctantly; grudgingly: He apologized, but did so with bad grace.Also with a bad grace.
  7. with good grace, willingly; ungrudgingly: She took on the extra work with good grace.

Origin of grace

1125–75; Middle English < Old French < Latin grātia favor, kindness, esteem, derivative of grātus pleasing
Related formsgrace·like, adjectiveun·graced, adjective

Word story

¡Gracias! Grazie! When a Spanish or Italian speaker says thanks, they are invoking one of the meanings behind the word grace. That’s because grace, gracias, and grazie all descend from the same Latin word, grātia.
For the ancient Romans, grātia had three distinct meanings: (1) a pleasing quality, (2) favor or goodwill, and (3) gratitude or thanks. We find all three of these meanings in modern-day English. The first when we describe someone as having (or not having) grace: “Dancing, she had all the grace of an elephant on skates.” The second when we talk about giving or getting grace: “by the grace of God.” And the third when we say grace (i.e., “thanks”) at a meal.
So if you have something to be grateful for, you can say thank-you, grātia, gracias, or grazie. Just make sure you don’t give that something a coup de grâce.

Popular references

Amazing Grace: A hymn written by English clergyman John Newton, who participated in the slave trade before finding religion.
Grace: Jeff Buckley’s sole studio album, released in 1994, just three years before his early death.
Related Quotations
  • "When a person expends the least amount of motion on one action, that is grace."
    -Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Complete Works and Letters in Thirty Volumes, Letters, vol. 8, p. 11, “Nauka” (1976)
  • "When a clergyman is present, he is asked to say grace, often after everyone is seated. But in the case of a friend, he should be asked in advance if he would like to say grace."
    -Nancy Tuckerman & Nancy Dunnan The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (1995)


  1. William Russell,1832–1904, U.S. financier and shipping magnate, born in Ireland: mayor of New York City 1880–88.
  2. a female given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grace

Contemporary Examples of grace

Historical Examples of grace

British Dictionary definitions for grace


  1. elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression, or proportion
  2. a pleasing or charming quality
  3. goodwill or favour
  4. the granting of a favour or the manifestation of goodwill, esp by a superior
  5. a sense of propriety and consideration for others
  6. (plural)
    1. affectation of manner (esp in the phrase airs and graces)
    2. in someone's good gracesregarded favourably and with kindness by someone
  7. mercy; clemency
  8. Christianity
    1. the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man
    2. the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification
    3. the condition of being favoured or sanctified by God
    4. an unmerited gift, favour, etc, granted by God
  9. a short prayer recited before or after a meal to invoke a blessing upon the food or give thanks for it
  10. music a melodic ornament or decoration
  11. See days of grace
  12. with bad grace or with a bad grace unwillingly or grudgingly
  13. with good grace or with a good grace willingly or cheerfully
  1. (tr) to add elegance and beauty toflowers graced the room
  2. (tr) to honour or favourto grace a party with one's presence
  3. to ornament or decorate (a melody, part, etc) with nonessential notes

Word Origin for grace

C12: from Old French, from Latin grātia, from grātus pleasing


  1. (preceded by your, his, or her) a title used to address or refer to a duke, duchess, or archbishop


  1. W (illiam) G (ilbert). 1848–1915, English cricketer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for grace

late 12c., "God's favor or help," from Old French grace "pardon, divine grace, mercy; favor, thanks; elegance, virtue" (12c.), from Latin gratia "favor, esteem, regard; pleasing quality, good will, gratitude" (source of Italian grazia, Spanish gracia), from gratus "pleasing, agreeable," from PIE root *gwere- "to favor" (cf. Sanskrit grnati "sings, praises, announces," Lithuanian giriu "to praise, celebrate," Avestan gar- "to praise").

Sense of "virtue" is early 14c., that of "beauty of form or movement, pleasing quality" is mid-14c. In classical sense, "one of the three sister goddesses (Latin Gratiæ, Greek Kharites), bestowers of beauty and charm," it is first recorded in English 1579 in Spenser. The short prayer that is said before or after a meal (early 13c.; until 16c. usually graces) has a sense of "gratitude."


fem. proper name, literally "favor, grace;" see grace (n.).


c.1200, "to thank," from Old French gracier, from grace (see grace (n.)). Meaning "to show favor" (mid-15c.) led to that of "to lend or add grace to something" (1580s, e.g. grace us with your presence), which is the root of the musical sense in grace notes (1650s). Related: Graced; gracing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with grace


see fall from grace; in someone's bad graces; in someone's good graces; saving grace; say grace; there but for the grace of god; with good grace.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.