causing grief or great sorrow: grievous news.
flagrant; outrageous; atrocious: a grievous offense against morality.
full of or expressing grief; sorrowful: a grievous cry.
burdensome or oppressive.
causing great pain or suffering: arrested for causing grievous bodily harm to someone in a bar.

Origin of grievous

1250–1300; Middle English grevous < Old French grevo(u)s. See grieve, -ous
Related formsgriev·ous·ly, adverbgriev·ous·ness, nounnon·griev·ous, adjectivenon·griev·ous·ly, adverbnon·griev·ous·ness, nouno·ver·griev·ous, adjectiveo·ver·griev·ous·ly, adverbo·ver·griev·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for grievous

Antonyms for grievous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grievous

Contemporary Examples of grievous

Historical Examples of grievous

  • A grievous error it is to suppose that Cupid's artillery is limited to bow and arrows.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

  • The country was saddened, moreover, with grievous sicknesses.

    Old News

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • For three years past, this grievous calamity had been borne.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • That they did not do so was a grievous disappointment from the beginning.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for grievous



very severe or painfula grievous injury
very serious; heinousa grievous sin
showing or marked by griefa grievous cry
causing great pain or sufferinga grievous attack
Derived Formsgrievously, adverbgrievousness, noun
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 grievous

c.1300, from Anglo-French grevous (Old French grevos) "heavy, hard, toilsome," from grief (see grief). Legal term grievous bodily harm attested from 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper