• synonyms


noun (used with a singular or plural verb)
  1. Also called hominy grits. coarsely ground hominy, boiled and sometimes then fried, eaten as a breakfast dish or as a side dish with meats.
  2. grain hulled and coarsely ground.
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Origin of grits

before 900; Middle English gryttes (plural), Old English gryt(t); cognate with German Grütze


  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

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

Related Words for grits

perseverance, spunk, toughness, guts, tenacity, fortitude, moxie, spirit, daring, powder, dust, gravel, sand, nerve, gameness, spine, backbone, pluck, doggedness

Examples from the Web for grits

Contemporary Examples of grits

Historical Examples of grits

  • We ate hominy, mush, grits and pone bread for the most part.

  • There are sandstones, shales, and grits, with ferruginous joints.

    British Borneo

    W. H. Treacher

  • There was a strip of bacon a few inches thick, some flour, grits—and these were about all.

  • And, secondly, since Grits Jarvis was contraband, nothing was to be said about him.

    A Far Country, Complete

    Winston Churchill

  • Grits Jarvis, his son, who had inherited the talent, was also contraband.

    A Far Country, Complete

    Winston Churchill

British Dictionary definitions for grits


pl n
  1. hulled and coarsely ground grain
  2. US See hominy grits
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Word Origin for grits

Old English grytt; related to Old High German gruzzi; see great, grit


  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 grits


plural of grit "coarsely ground grain," Old English grytt (plural grytta) "coarse meal, groats, grits," from Proto-Germanic *grutja-, from the same root as grit, the two words having influenced one another in sound development.

In American English, corn-based grits and hominy (q.v.) were used interchangeably in Colonial times. Later, hominy meant whole kernels that had been skinned but not ground, but in the U.S. South, hominy meant skinned kernels that could be ground coarsely to make grits. In New Orleans, whole kernels are big hominy and ground kernels little hominy.

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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