August 20, 2013
gruesome (adjective)
\GROO-sum\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: causing horror or disgust : horrible
How do you use it?
When Ray told the story of his bicycle accident, he always left out the most gruesome details about how his knee was split open.
Are you a word wiz?

"Gruesome" traces back to the Middle English verb "gruen," which means something you do when you see something horrible or disgusting. What to do you think "gruen" means?

The Middle English verb "gruen" means "to shiver," and it played a part in the history of "gruesome." Word scholars think that "gruesome" probably has its origins in "gruwen," a word meaning "to shiver" that comes from Middle Dutch (the Dutch language spoken from about 1100 to about 1500). Speakers of Middle English took "gruwen" to form "gruen," also using it to mean "to shiver." "Gruen" was altered in English dialect to "grow" and "grue," and the adjective form of it came into use as "growsome." Around 1700 our version of the word was formed and we've had "gruesome" ever since to describe things we find horrible -- and that might cause us to shiver.
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