See more synonyms for nitty-gritty on
  1. the essential substance or details of a matter; basics; crux: Let's skip the chitchat and get down to the nitty-gritty.
  1. fundamental, detailed, or probing: nitty-gritty questions.
  2. direct and practical: nitty-gritty advice; a nitty-gritty system.

Origin of nitty-gritty

An Americanism dating back to 1960–65; rhyming compound of uncertain origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of nitty-gritty

British Dictionary definitions for nitty-gritty


  1. the nitty-gritty informal the basic facts of a matter, situation, etc; the core

Word Origin for nitty-gritty

C20: perhaps rhyming compound formed from grit
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 nitty-gritty

"basic facts," 1961, knitty-gritty, American English, said to have been chiefly used by black jazz musicians, perhaps ultimately from nit and grits "finely ground corn." As an adjective from 1966.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper