See more synonyms for grim on
adjective, grim·mer, grim·mest.
  1. stern and admitting of no appeasement or compromise: grim determination; grim necessity.
  2. of a sinister or ghastly character; repellent: a grim joke.
  3. having a harsh, surly, forbidding, or morbid air: a grim man but a just one; a grim countenance.
  4. fierce, savage, or cruel: War is a grim business.

Origin of grim

before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with Old Saxon, Old High German grimm, Old Norse grimmr
Related formsgrim·ly, adverbgrim·ness, noun

Synonyms for grim

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Antonyms for grim Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for grimness

Contemporary Examples of grimness

  • The whole process could have been a joyful PR interlude, replacing the current grind of grimness.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Bankers Screwed Up Their PR

    Adam Hanft

    February 7, 2009

  • This longing for grimness actually has its own portmanteau word, ostalgie.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Week in Polls

    Adam Hanft

    October 17, 2008

Historical Examples of grimness

  • She smiled, but there was a hint of grimness in the bending of her lips.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Even Nellie, child that she was, understood the grimness of the battle before them.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • No man with a gleam of humour could have kept a mask of grimness.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • "Don't worry: I'm going to tell you," she said, her grimness not relaxed.

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • Peter Blood considered him with a grimness that increased his panic.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for grimness


adjective grimmer or grimmest
  1. stern; resolutegrim determination
  2. harsh or formidable in manner or appearance
  3. harshly ironic or sinistergrim laughter
  4. cruel, severe, or ghastlya grim accident
  5. archaic, or poetic fiercea grim warrior
  6. informal unpleasant; disagreeable
  7. hold on like grim death to hold very firmly or resolutely
Derived Formsgrimly, adverbgrimness, noun

Word Origin for grim

Old English grimm; related to Old Norse grimmr, Old High German grimm savage, Greek khremizein to neigh
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 grimness

Old English grimnesse; see grim + -ness.



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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper