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  1. abrasive particles or granules, as of sand or other small, coarse impurities found in the air, food, water, etc.
  2. firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck: She has a reputation for grit and common sense.
  3. a coarse-grained siliceous rock, usually with sharp, angular grains.
  4. British. gravel.
  5. sand or other fine grainy particles eaten by fowl to aid in digestion.
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verb (used with object), grit·ted, grit·ting.
  1. to cause to grind or grate together.
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verb (used without object), grit·ted, grit·ting.
  1. to make a scratchy or slightly grating sound, as of sand being walked on; grate.
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  1. grit one's teeth, to show tenseness, anger, or determination by or as if by clamping or grinding the teeth together.
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Origin of grit

before 1000; Middle English gret, griet, grit, Old English grēot; cognate with German Griess, Old Norse grjōt pebble, boulder; see grits
Related formsgrit·less, adjectivegrit·ter, noun

Synonyms for grit

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for grit one's teeth


  1. small hard particles of sand, earth, stone, etc
  2. Also called: gritstone any coarse sandstone that can be used as a grindstone or millstone
  3. the texture or grain of stone
  4. indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution
  5. engineering an arbitrary measure of the size of abrasive particles used in a grinding wheel or other abrasive process
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verb grits, gritting or gritted
  1. to clench or grind together (two objects, esp the teeth)
  2. to cover (a surface, such as icy roads) with grit
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Derived Formsgritless, adjective

Word Origin for grit

Old English grēot; related to Old Norse grjōt pebble, Old High German grioz; see great, groats, gruel


noun, adjective Canadian
  1. an informal word for Liberal
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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 grit one's teeth



Old English greot "sand, dust, earth, gravel," from Proto-Germanic *greutan "tiny particles of crushed rock" (cf. Old Saxon griot, Old Frisian gret, Old Norse grjot "rock, stone," German Grieß "grit, sand"), from PIE *ghreu- "rub, grind" (cf. Lithuanian grudas "corn, kernel," Old Church Slavonic gruda "clod"). Sense of "pluck, spirit" first recorded American English, 1808.

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"make a grating sound," 1762, probably from grit (n.). Related: Gritted; gritting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with grit one's teeth

grit one's teeth

Summon up one's strength to face unpleasantness or overcome a difficulty. For example, Gritting his teeth, he dove into the icy water. This expression uses grit in the sense of both clamping one's teeth together and grinding them with effort. [Late 1700s]

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