[ greef-strik-uhn ]
/ ˈgrifˌstrɪk ən /
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overwhelmed by grief; deeply afflicted or sorrowful.
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Origin of grief-stricken

First recorded in 1900–05

Words nearby grief-stricken

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does grief-stricken mean?

Grief-stricken means overwhelmed or strongly affected by grief—mental or emotional suffering or distress caused by loss or regret.

It’s especially used to describe a person who is feeling intense sorrow and loss from the death of a loved one.

The word stricken is the past participle of the verb strike, but it can also be used as an adjective meaning the same thing as afflicted.

The word grief can also be used in the context of other situations involving loss, such as a divorce or the loss of a job, but grief-stricken is usually only used to describe those who are feeling grief due to a death. In other words, those who are grief-stricken are usually those who are grieving or mourning.

Example: She was absolutely grief-stricken after the loss of her mother.

Where does grief-stricken come from?

The first records of the term grief-stricken come from around 1900. The word grief is first recorded much earlier, around 1200, and ultimately comes from the Latin verb gravāre, meaning “to burden,” from gravis, “heavy.” The same root forms the basis of the words gravity and the adjective grave meaning “serious.”

People who are griefsticken—and those who try to help them deal with their grief—often become familiar with the popular theory that there are five stages of grief, which was developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. According to Kübler-Ross, the five stages of grief are:

  1. Denial (This stage involves difficulty believing that what has happened is real.)
  2. Anger (This involves frustration that it has happened to you.)
  3. Bargaining (This can involve thinking about “what if” and trying to find some way out of what has happened.)
  4. Depression. (This involves the sorrow that comes with the realization that what has happened is real and nothing can be done to change it.)
  5. Acceptance. (This stage involves accepting what has happened and attempting to move on.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for grief-stricken?

What are some words that share a root or word element with griefstricken

What are some words that often get used in discussing griefstricken?

How is grief-stricken used in real life?

Grief-stricken is almost always used to describe someone who is overwhelmed with sorrow after the death of a loved one.



Try using grief-stricken!

Is grief-stricken used correctly in the following sentence?

To all the families who are grief-stricken over the loss of a loved one, I offer you my sincere condolences.

How to use grief-stricken in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for grief-stricken


deeply affected by sorrow or distress
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