Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Dick believed that Grant must have laughed one of his grimmest laughs.

That night, winter, in its grimmest sense, settled upon Quinton.

"You're a likely youngster, you ere," he said, looking down at him with the grimmest of smiles.

Sister Gaillarde patted me on the shoulder with her grimmest smile.

"I am glad to have been of service," said the other, looking his grimmest.

And then, finally, the poet does not shrink from the last and grimmest reality.

It led through an arbor-vit wilderness of the grimmest character.

"That's true," said the old lady, with the smile that was the grimmest thing about her.

So ended the coldest and hardest and grimmest day Neale had ever known.

Now we are faced with the greatest and the grimmest struggle of all.


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.).

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.