Definition of grim in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡrim/

adjective (grimmer, grimmest)

1Forbidding or uninviting: his grim expression long rows of grim, dark housing developments
More example sentences
  • But she could see everyone else paying close attention, their expressions slowly becoming more serious and grim.
  • She looked up to see his grim expression and immediately sobered.
  • This time, none of them were laughing; they looked grim and serious.
stern, forbidding, uninviting, unsmiling, dour, formidable, harsh, steely, flinty, stony;
cross, churlish, surly, sour, ill-tempered;
fierce, ferocious, threatening, menacing, implacable, ruthless, merciless
bleak, dreary, dismal, dingy, wretched, miserable, depressing, cheerless, comfortless, joyless, gloomy, uninviting
informal godawful
1.1(Of humor) lacking genuine levity; mirthless; black: some moments of grim humor
More example sentences
  • Most of us use grim humour to cope with life's dark side.
  • Sitting in the shade of the fig trees in Westminster's bustling Portcullis House last week, Ian Cawsey recalled with grim humour the moment when he almost died.
  • But somehow, that sort of irreverent, grim humor doesn't seem appropriate.
black, dark, mirthless, bleak, cynical
1.2Depressing or worrying to consider: the grim news of the murder
More example sentences
  • With these grim figures to consider, it is expected that Carlow would be one of the first test centres in the country to benefit from any forthcoming additional resources.
  • The alternative - settling for economic, cultural and demographic stagnation - is too grim to consider.
  • This could be grim news for millions of consumers whose life savings are invested in pensions, endowments and other savings contracts.
dreadful, dire, ghastly, horrible, horrendous, horrid, terrible, awful, appalling, frightful, shocking, unspeakable, grisly, gruesome, hideous, macabre;
depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant
1.3Unrelentingly harsh; merciless or severe: few creatures are able to thrive in this grim and hostile land
More example sentences
  • Rural life is shown as harsh and grim where the ablest and younger peasants sought to escape to the factories in the cities.
  • The lives of agricultural and urban workers would have been just as grim.
  • Others are angry but matter-of-fact about a lifestyle that seems unbearably grim to the outsider.


like grim death

With great determination: we had to hold on like grim death
More example sentences
  • I couldn't hear a thing - I just held on for grim death.
  • Moments later they were hanging on for grim death.
  • If you dare look outside while you are clinging on for grim death, you see the bus is a few inches from the dawdling car in front, the airhorn urging the driver to move it, or move over.



Pronunciation: /ˈɡrimnəs/
Example sentences
  • Russians can have a seriousness that borders on grimness.
  • Some of the elite recognised that high art could compensate for the deficits of capitalist society; beautiful paintings could make the grimness of everyday life a little easier to bear.
  • My hostel, on first encounter, had an institutional grimness defying the more immediate forms of description.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch grim and German grimm.

  • The meaning of grim has weakened over the centuries from its first appearance in Old English as ‘fierce or cruel’. To hang (or cling) on like grim death dates from the mid 19th century, but the use of grim for the forbidding appearance of the figure of Death is recorded much earlier. The Grim Reaper (mid 19th century) is a representation of Death in the form of a cloaked skeleton wielding a long scythe.

Words that rhyme with grim

bedim, brim, crim, dim, glim, Grimm, gym, him, hymn, Jim, Kim, limb, limn, nim, prim, scrim, shim, Sim, skim, slim, swim, Tim, trim, vim, whim

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: grim

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