Origin of grammar

1325–75; Middle English gramery < Old French gramaire < Latin gramatica < Greek grammatikḕ (téchnē) grammatical (art); see -ar2
Related formsgram·mar·less, adjective
Can be confusedgrammar grandma grandmother Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grammar

Contemporary Examples of grammar

Historical Examples of grammar

  • In grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number.

  • The use of the pronoun, the disuse of the grammar pulled him up short.

  • "But it's sure to be him," chattered Simms, his teeth as crazy as his grammar.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Such may lie even in the region of grammar, or in the mere arrangement of a sentence.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • I do not care to dwell on my experience at the grammar school.

British Dictionary definitions for grammar



the branch of linguistics that deals with syntax and morphology, sometimes also phonology and semantics
the abstract system of rules in terms of which a person's mastery of his native language can be explained
a systematic description of the grammatical facts of a language
a book containing an account of the grammatical facts of a language or recommendations as to rules for the proper use of a language
  1. the use of language with regard to its correctness or social propriety, esp in syntaxthe teacher told him to watch his grammar
  2. (as modifier)a grammar book
the elementary principles of a science or artthe grammar of drawing
Derived Formsgrammarless, adjective

Word Origin for grammar

C14: from Old French gramaire, from Latin grammatica, from Greek grammatikē (tekhnē) the grammatical (art), from grammatikos concerning letters, from gramma letter
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 grammar

early 14c., gramarye (late 12c. in surnames), from Old French gramaire "learning," especially Latin and philology, "grammar, (magic) incantation, spells, mumbo-jumbo," "irregular semi-popular adoption" [OED] of Latin grammatica, from Greek grammatike tekhne "art of letters," with a sense of both philology and literature in the broadest sense, fem. adjective from gramma "letter," from stem of graphein "to draw or write" (see -graphy). An Old English word for it was stæfcræft.

Form grammar is from late 14c. Restriction to "rules of language" is a post-classical development, but as this type of study was until 16c. limited to Latin, Middle English gramarye also came to mean "learning in general, knowledge peculiar to the learned classes" (early 14c.), which included astrology and magic; hence the secondary meaning of "occult knowledge" (late 15c.), which evolved in Scottish into glamor (q.v.).

A grammar school (late 14c.) originally was "a school in which the learned languages are grammatically taught" [Johnson, who also has grammaticaster "a mean verbal pedant"]. In U.S. (1842) the term was put to use in the graded system for "a school between primary and secondary where English grammar is taught."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

grammar in Culture


The rules for standard use of words. A grammar is also a system for classifying and analyzing the elements of language.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.