Definition of grain in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡreɪn/


1 [mass noun] Wheat or any other cultivated cereal used as food.
Example sentences
  • He now had two patches of grain and maize while apricots, cherries, plums and quince hung heavily from boughs covered in thick, grey lichen.
  • The staple grain is wheat and Pakistan is a predominantly bread-eating country.
  • The crop farmers have wheat and grain and corn and potatoes and squash and beans and lettuce.
cereal, cereal crops
1.1The seeds of wheat or other cultivated cereals.
Example sentences
  • The mutant lines also had higher seed weights and grain yields per plant than the parental line.
  • Quail typically hunt for seeds, grain, grasses, plant leaves and buds, acorns, and insects.
  • At times they eat arthropods, seeds, and grain, but they are more carnivorous than crows.
2A single fruit or seed of a cereal: a few grains of corn
More example sentences
  • Those tastes were wonderfully different, especially the seeds and grains of the outback.
  • Single grains of sweetcorn are excellent in natural and dyed and/or flavoured forms.
  • His diet consists mainly of grains, seeds, fruit, vegetables and non-stimulating drinks.
kernel, seed, grist, fruit
2.1A small hard particle of a substance such as salt or sand: a grain of salt
More example sentences
  • During the event, particles smaller than a grain of sand burn up as they stream through the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 150,000 miles an hour.
  • It contains particles smaller than a grain of sand, each one containing a unique nine-digit identification code.
  • This early embryo is a ball of cells smaller than a grain of sand.
granule, particle, speck, spot, mote, mite, dot;
bit, piece;
scrap, crumb, fragment, flake, morsel, iota, molecule, atom
2.2The smallest possible quantity or amount of a quality: there wasn’t a grain of truth in what he said
More example sentences
  • He pondered the possibility of a grain of truth in each, and lost himself in thought.
  • Anybody who knows him will find more than a grain of truth in the story, for he is one of the most taciturn men in football.
  • Yesterday's review by two animal behaviour experts at Cambridge University suggests that there might be more than a grain of truth in such stories.
trace, hint, suggestion, suspicion, tinge, shadow;
small amount, bit, little bit, soupçon;
spark, scintilla, ounce, modicum, iota, jot, whit, scrap, shred, spot, drop, pinch;
Irish  stim
informal smidgen, smidge, tad
archaic scantling, scruple
2.3A discrete particle or crystal in a metal, igneous rock, etc., typically visible only when a surface is magnified.
Example sentences
  • The grain size of an igneous rock depends upon the rate of cooling.
  • On the basis of their morphology, they are interpreted to be late-stage igneous grains.
  • Some are made up of dense, black, homogeneous basalt, with no visible mineral grains.
2.4A piece of solid propellant for use in a rocket engine.
Example sentences
  • Minor variations in the weight of the projectile, form of the rotating band, and moisture content and temperature of the propellant grains.
3 (abbreviation gr.) The smallest unit of weight in the troy and avoirdupois systems, equal to 1/5760 of a pound troy and 1/7000 of a pound avoirdupois (approximately 0.0648 gram).
Because originally the weight was equivalent to that of a grain of corn
Example sentences
  • The ounce was approximately 450 grains, i.e. slightly heavier than the modern one.
  • Prior to 1933, the name ‘dollar’ was used to refer to a unit of gold that had a weight of 23.22 grains.
  • How anyone dreamed up a system where 20 fluid ounces makes one pint, 437.5 grains makes one ounce and 1,760 yards makes one mile is beyond us.
4 [mass noun] The longitudinal arrangement or pattern of fibres in wood, paper, etc. he scored along the grain of the table with the knife
More example sentences
  • If you do woodwork at school, you learn to exploit the properties of wood, such as it splits along the grain.
  • Heavy cutting of solid wood along the grain is best done with a dedicated ripping blade.
  • As soon as she was gone, I sighed loudly and stared at the table, mentally tracing the patterns of the wood grain.
texture, intertexture, surface, finish, feel;
weave, nap, fibre, fabric, pattern
4.1The texture of wood, stone, etc., as determined by the arrangement and size of constituent particles: the lighter, finer grain of the wood is attractive
More example sentences
  • I touched the wood of the central cabin, feeling solidity and wood grain warmed by the morning sun under my fingertips.
  • But perhaps the art of joinery is subtle enough to conceal the ill-will of the maker in the fine grain of the wood, or to obscure it with careful polishing.
  • The complete absence of grain and texture makes carving difficult and unrewarding.
4.2The rough or wrinkled outer surface of leather, or of a similar artificial material.
Example sentences
  • Again, it works because there is nothing token or apologetic about it, and you end up not minding the hard plastic surfaces because they are honest enough not to ape leather grain.
  • The Hissatsu's grip is black polymer with a molded-in deep pebble grain surface.
  • Eagle's new ‘Ultra Ivory’ is a synthetic material with the grain and texture of real ivory.
4.3 Mining Lamination or planes of cleavage in materials such as stone and coal.
4.4 Photography A grainy appearance of a photograph or negative, which is in proportion to the size of the emulsion particles composing it.
Example sentences
  • Edge enhancement was kept at a minimum, and only a small amount of grain was spotted.
  • The grain and camcorder quality degrade the already poor material to the point of being unwatchable.
  • The only flaw I spotted was a small amount of grain in a few key scenes.
5 archaic A person’s character or natural tendency.
Example sentences
  • And it doesn't go with the grain of human nature.
  • The last argument O'Neill deals with is that the market runs with the grain of human nature which is self interest.
  • Welfare had to work with the grain of human nature.
6 [mass noun] historical Kermes or cochineal, or dye made from either of these.


[with object]
1Give a rough surface or texture to: her fingers were grained with chalk dust
More example sentences
  • Her body was becoming grained with sweat.
1.1 [no object] Form into grains: if the sugar does grain up, add more water
More example sentences
  • The acid had the desirable effect of keeping the sugar mixture clear and hard when it cooled, instead of graining, i.e. recrystallizing to granulated sugar.
2 (usually as noun graining) Paint (especially furniture or interior surfaces) in imitation of the grain of wood or marble.
Example sentences
  • Nathaniel Clements, another decorative artist from Dublin, likes to work with finishes such as marbling and graining that date back to the 18th century.
  • In the room from North East, he settled on a faded coat of greenish-blue paint visible over earlier layers of white and trompe l'oeil graining.
  • I think I could paint and grain a door even today, because I can recollect how he used to do it.
3Remove hair from (a hide).
4North American Feed (a horse) on grain.
Example sentences
  • The boy who took the mare in and grained it knew one thing about the owner instantly.
  • Grain the horse no sooner than two hours after the ride.
  • He dismounted, led the horse to the barn and grained him.


against the grain

Contrary to the natural inclination or feeling of someone or something: it goes against the grain to tell outright lies
From the fact that wood is easier to cut along the line of the grain
More example sentences
  • Time after time, he's undertaken initiatives which have gone against the grain of public opinion.
  • When did you last hear a politician genuinely appeal to our higher nature, go against the grain because what they believed in was simply the right thing to do?
  • I've decided to go against the grain and not have any mixed drinks tonight.



Pronunciation: /ɡreɪnd/
[usually in combination]: coarse-grained sandstone
More example sentences
  • So, it's off to pick up a sketch book, a few loose and large sheets of beautifully grained paper, and an array of acrylics and pencils this weekend.
  • Techniques of steaming and bending wood allowed this grained organic material to assume the same linear, undecorated form as the chrome-plated steel and leather chairs of Bauhaus fame.
  • It's an unusual formation of a very small grained hail that has the appearance and feel of snow.


Example sentences
  • It is part of a joint exhibition with the Painting Craft Teachers' Association and the wonderful pieces will be displayed alongside work by some of the country's best contemporary grainers and marblers.
  • ‘My father was a painter and decorator and wood grainer,’ she said.
  • Those big 440 - grainers are a handful and I wasn't going to practice with them all afternoon.


Example sentences
  • This highly sophisticated camera - one of only six in the world - produces a lush, full-color, high resolution, vividly detailed, virtually grainless surface, large format, contact photograph in just 70 seconds!
  • The granular quality of the early calotypes lent itself to a continuation of the picturesque aesthetic, while the grainless, mirror quality of the daguerreotype offered an illusion of unmediated reality.
  • The technique is essentially a development of the woodcut, the earliest of printmaking methods, but linocuts are much simpler to make because the material is soft and grainless and therefore easier to work.


Middle English (originally in the sense 'seed, grain of corn'): from Old French grain, from Latin granum.

  • The first meaning of grain, which is from Latin granum ‘seed’, also found in granary (late 16th century), granule (mid 17th century), and granite (mid 17th century) with its grain-like markings was, a single seed of a plant. From this developed the idea not only of a seed-like particle such as a grain of sand, salt, or gold but also of an arrangement of fibres that resembles small seeds or grains side by side, such as the ‘grain’ of a piece of wood. If something goes against the grain it is contrary to your natural inclination. This, dating from the mid 17th century, comes from carpentry. While grange is used today for a country house it was originally a barn for grain and comes from medieval Latin granica (villa) ‘grain house’, based on granum. Garner (Middle English) was originally also a word for a granary, and comes via French from the same source.

Words that rhyme with grain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

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