[ greyn ]
See synonyms for: graingrains on

  1. a small, hard seed, especially the seed of a food plant such as wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice, or millet.

  2. the gathered seed of food plants, especially of cereal plants.

  1. such plants collectively.

  2. any small, hard particle, as of sand, gold, pepper, or gunpowder.

  3. the smallest unit of weight in most systems, originally determined by the weight of a plump grain of wheat. In the U.S. and British systems, as in avoirdupois, troy, and apothecaries' weights, the grain is identical. In an avoirdupois ounce there are 437.5 grains; in the troy and apothecaries' ounces there are 480 grains (one grain equals 0.0648 gram).

  4. the smallest possible amount of anything: a grain of truth.

  5. the arrangement or direction of fibers in wood, or the pattern resulting from this.

  6. the direction in which the fibers of a piece of dressed wood, as a board, rise to the surface: You should work with or across the grain, but never against.

  7. the side of leather from which the hair has been removed.

  8. a stamped pattern that imitates the natural grain of leather: used either on leather to simulate a different type of natural leather, or on coated cloth.

  9. Textiles.

    • the fibers or yarn in a piece of fabric as differentiated from the fabric itself.

    • the direction of threads in a woven fabric in relation to the selvage.

  10. the lamination or cleavage of stone, coal, etc.

  11. Metallurgy. any of the individual crystalline particles forming a metal.

  12. Jewelry. a unit of weight equal to 50 milligrams or ¼ carat, used for pearls and sometimes for diamonds.

  13. the size of constituent particles of any substance; texture: sugar of fine grain.

  14. a granular texture or appearance: a stone of coarse grain.

  15. a state of crystallization: boiled to the grain.

  16. temper or natural character: two brothers of similar grain.

  17. Rocketry. a unit of solid propellant.

  18. Obsolete. color or hue.

verb (used with object)
  1. to form into grains; granulate.

  2. to give a granular appearance to.

  1. to paint in imitation of the grain of wood, stone, etc.: metal doors grained to resemble oak.

  2. to feed grain to (an animal).

  3. Tanning.

    • to remove the hair from (skins).

    • to soften and raise the grain of (leather).

Idioms about grain

  1. against the / one's grain, in opposition to one's temper, inclination, or character: Haggling always went against her grain.

  2. with a grain of salt. salt1 (def. 24).

Origin of grain

1250–1300; Middle English grain, grein<Old French grain<Latin grānum seed, grain; see corn1

Other words for grain

Other words from grain

  • grainer, noun
  • grainless, adjective
  • mul·ti·grain, noun, adjective
  • non·grain, noun
  • su·per·grain, noun
  • un·der·grain·ing, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use grain in a sentence

  • Order their bacon egg fancy, a toasted sandwich with cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion, and house mayo on multigrain.

    Gal With a Suitcase | Jolie Hunt | March 20, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST

British Dictionary definitions for grain


/ (ɡreɪn) /

  1. the small hard seedlike fruit of a grass, esp a cereal plant

  2. a mass of such fruits, esp when gathered for food

  1. the plants, collectively, from which such fruits are harvested

  2. a small hard particle: a grain of sand

    • the general direction or arrangement of the fibrous elements in paper or wood: to saw across the grain

    • the pattern or texture of wood resulting from such an arrangement: the attractive grain of the table

  3. the relative size of the particles of a substance: sugar of fine grain

    • the granular texture of a rock, mineral, etc

    • the appearance of a rock, mineral, etc, determined by the size and arrangement of its constituents

    • the outer (hair-side) layer of a hide or skin from which the hair or wool has been removed

    • the pattern on the outer surface of such a hide or skin

  4. a surface artificially imitating the grain of wood, leather, stone, etc; graining

  5. the smallest unit of weight in the avoirdupois, Troy, and apothecaries' systems, based on the average weight of a grain of wheat: in the avoirdupois system it equals 1/7000 of a pound, and in the Troy and apothecaries' systems it equals 1/5760 of a pound. 1 grain is equal to 0.0648 gram: Abbreviation: gr

  6. Also called: metric grain a metric unit of weight used for pearls or diamonds, equal to 50 milligrams or one quarter of a carat

  7. the threads or direction of threads in a woven fabric

  8. photog any of a large number of particles in a photographic emulsion, the size of which limit the extent to which an image can be enlarged without serious loss of definition

  9. television a granular effect in a television picture caused by electrical noise

  10. cleavage lines in crystalline material, parallel to growth planes

  11. chem any of a large number of small crystals forming a polycrystalline solid, each having a regular array of atoms that differs in orientation from that of the surrounding crystallites

  12. a state of crystallization: to boil syrup to the grain

  13. a very small amount: a grain of truth

  14. natural disposition, inclination, or character (esp in the phrase go against the grain)

  15. astronautics a homogenous mass of solid propellant in a form designed to give the required combustion characteristics for a particular rocket

  16. (not in technical usage) kermes or a red dye made from this insect

  17. dyeing an obsolete word for colour

  18. with a grain of salt or with a pinch of salt without wholly believing: sceptically

verb(mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to form grains or cause to form into grains; granulate; crystallize

  2. to give a granular or roughened appearance or texture to

  1. to paint, stain, etc, in imitation of the grain of wood or leather

    • to remove the hair or wool from (a hide or skin) before tanning

    • to raise the grain pattern on (leather)

Origin of grain

C13: from Old French, from Latin grānum

Derived forms of grain

  • grainer, noun
  • grainless, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for grain


[ grān ]

  1. A small particle of something, such as salt, pollen, or sand.

  1. A unit of weight in the US Customary System, equal to 21000 of an ounce (0.07 gram). See Table at measurement.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with grain


see against the grain; with a grain of salt.

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