graceful (adj.) Look up graceful at
mid-15c., "full of (divine) grace," also "pleasant, sweet," from grace (n.) + -ful. Meaning "with pleasing or attractive qualities" is from 1580s. Related: Gracefully; gracefulness.
graceless (adj.) Look up graceless at
late 14c., "not in a state of grace," from grace (n.) + -less. Meaning "wanting charm or elegance" is from 1630s. Related: Gracelessly; gracelessness.
gracile (adj.) Look up gracile at
"slender, thin," 1620s, from Latin gracilis "slender, thin, fine; plain, simple, meager" (source of French grêle), of unknown origin. Not etymologically connected to grace but often regarded as if it is. Perhaps a dissimilated form related to Latin cracens "slender;" if so, perhaps cognate with Sanskrit krsah "thin, weak," Avestan keresa- "lean, meager," Lithuanian karštu "to be very old, to age." Related: Gracility.
gracious (adj.) Look up gracious at
c. 1300, "filled with God's grace," from Old French gracios "courteous, pleasing, kind, friendly" (12c., Modern French gracieux), from Latin gratiosus "enjoying favor, agreeable, obliging; popular, acceptable," from gratia (see grace (n.)). Meaning "merciful, benevolent" is from late 14c. As an exclamation, elliptically for gracious God, attested from 1713.
graciously (adv.) Look up graciously at
c. 1300, "by God's grace," from gracious + -ly (2). Meaning "favorably, with good will" is late 14c.
graciousness (n.) Look up graciousness at
late 14c., "attractiveness, agreeable quality," early 15c., from gracious + -ness. From 1630s as "courtesy, politeness."
grackle (n.) Look up grackle at
1772, gracule, from genus name Gracula, Modern Latin use of fem. of Latin graculus "jackdaw, European crow," perhaps of imitative origin (compare crow (n.), crane (n.)). The Englished form of the word is attested from 1782.
grad (n.) Look up grad at
abbreviation of graduate (n.), attested from 1871.
gradate (v.) Look up gradate at
"pass by imperceptible degrees," 1753, back-formation from gradation. Related: Gradated; gradating.
gradation (n.) Look up gradation at
1530s, "a climax;" 1670s, "orderly arrangement or succession," from Middle French gradation (16c.) and directly from Latin gradationem (nominative gradatio) "ascent by steps; a climax," noun of action from gradus "step, degree" (see grade (n.)). Meaning "gradual change" is from 1540s.
gradational (adj.) Look up gradational at
1785, from gradation + -al (1).
grade (n.) Look up grade at
1510s, "degree of measurement," from French grade "grade, degree" (16c.), from Latin gradus "step, pace, gait, walk; step on a ladder or stair;" figuratively "a step, stage, degree," from gradi (past participle gressus) "to walk, step, go," from PIE *ghredh- "to walk, go" (source also of Lithuanian gridiju "to go, wander," Old Church Slavonic gredo "to come," Old Irish in-greinn "he pursues," and second element in congress, progress, etc.). Replaced Middle English gree "step, degree in a series," from Old French grei "step," from Latin gradus.

Meaning "inclination of a road or railroad" is from 1811. Meaning "class of things having the same quality or value" is from 1807; meaning "division of a school curriculum equivalent to one year" is from 1835; that of "letter-mark indicating assessment of a student's work" is from 1886 (earlier used of numerical grades). Grade A "top quality, fit for human consumption" (originally of milk) is from a U.S. system instituted in 1912. To figuratively make the grade "be successful" is from 1912; early examples do not make clear whether the literal grade in mind was one of elevation, quality, or scholarship.
grade (v.) Look up grade at
1650s, "to arrange in grades," from grade (n.). Meaning "to reduce (a road, etc.) to a level or degree of inclination" is from 1835. Meaning "assign a letter mark to" is from 1931. Related: Graded; grading.
grader (n.) Look up grader at
1868, of machines; 1870, of persons, agent noun from grade (v.).
Gradgrind (n.) Look up Gradgrind at
"cold, factual person," from the name of the mill-owner in Dickens' "Hard Times" (1854).
gradient (n.) Look up gradient at
"steep slope of a road or railroad," 1835, principally in American English, probably from grade (n.) by analogy of quotient, etc. [OED]. It was used 17c. as an adjective, of animals, "characterized by walking;" in that case it is probably from Latin gradientem, present participle of gradi "to walk."
gradual (adj.) Look up gradual at
early 15c., "having steps or ridges," from Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus "step" (see grade (n.)). Meaning "arranged by degrees" is from 1540s; that of "taking place by degrees" is from 1690s.
gradualism (n.) Look up gradualism at
"a gradual method of action," 1832, in abolitionist literature, as a disparaging term (opposed to immediatism), from gradual + -ism. Related: Gradualist; gradualistic.
gradually (adv.) Look up gradually at
1640s, from gradual + -ly (2).
graduand (n.) Look up graduand at
in British universities, a student who has passed the necessary examinations but not yet graduated, 1882, from Medieval Latin graduandus, gerundive of graduari "to have a degree" (see graduate (n.)).
graduate (n.) Look up graduate at
early 15c., "one who holds a degree" (originally with man; as a stand-alone noun from mid-15c.), from Medieval Latin graduatus, past participle of graduari "to take a degree," from Latin gradus "step, grade" (see grade (n.)). As an adjective, from late 15c.
graduate (v.) Look up graduate at
early 15c., "to confer a university degree upon," from Medieval Latin graduatus (see graduate (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1807. Related: Graduated; graduating.
graduation (n.) Look up graduation at
early 15c., in alchemy, "a tempering, a refining of something to a certain degree; measurement according to the four degrees of a quality," from graduate (n.). General sense of "a dividing into degrees" is from 1590s; meaning "action of receiving or giving an academic degree" is from early 15c.; in reference to the ceremony where a degree is given, from 1818.
Gradus ad Parnassum (n.) Look up Gradus ad Parnassum at
Latin, literally "A Step to Parnassus," the mountain sacred to Apollo and the Muses. It was the title of a dictionary of prosody used in English public schools for centuries as a guide to Roman poetry. The book dates from the 1680s. Also the name of a treatise on musical composition written in Latin by Johann Joseph Fux, published in Vienna in 1725, and of a much-used book of exercises for piano.
Grady Look up Grady at
surname and masc. proper name, from Irish Grada "noble."
Graeco- Look up Graeco- at
also Greco-, modern word-forming element, from Latin Graecus "Greek" (see Greek (n.)) on model of Anglo-, Franco-, etc.
graffiti (n.) Look up graffiti at
1851, "ancient wall inscriptions found in the ruins of Pompeii," from Italian graffiti, plural of graffito "a scribbling," a diminutive formation from graffio "a scratch or scribble," from graffiare "to scribble," ultimately from Greek graphein "to scratch, draw, write" (see -graphy). They are found in many ancient places, but the habit was especially popular among the Romans. Sense extended 1877 to recently made crude drawings and scribbling in public places.
graffito (n.) Look up graffito at
singular of graffiti (q.v.).
graft (n.1) Look up graft at
"shoot inserted into another plant," late 15c. alteration of Middle English graff (late 14c.), from Old French graife "grafting knife, carving tool; stylus, pen," from Latin graphium "stylus," from Greek grapheion "stylus," from graphein "to write" (see -graphy). So called probably on resemblance of a stylus to the pencil-shaped shoots used in grafting. The terminal -t- in the English word is not explained. Surgical sense is from 1871.
graft (n.2) Look up graft at
"corruption," 1865, perhaps 1859, American English, perhaps from British slang graft "one's occupation" (1853), which is perhaps from the identical word meaning "a ditch, moat," literally "a digging" (1640s), from Middle Dutch graft, from graven "to dig" (see grave (v.)).
graft (v.) Look up graft at
late 15c., "insert a shoot from one tree into another," from graft (n.1). Figurative use by 1530s. Surgical sense by 1868. Related: Grafted; grafting.
Graham Look up Graham at
family name attested from early 12c., an Anglo-French form of the place name Grantham (Lincolnshire). In reference to crackers, bread, etc., made from unsifted whole-wheat flour, 1834, American English, from Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), U.S. dietetic reformer and temperance advocate. Related: Grahamism. Graham's law in physics (1845) is a reference to Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805-1869). Graham Land in Antarctica was named 1832 by English explorer John Biscoe in honor of Sir James Graham (1792-1861), first lord of the Admiralty; the U.S. name for it was Palmer Peninsula in honor of American explorer Nathaniel Palmer, who had led an expedition there in 1820. The rival names persisted until 1964.
grail (n.) Look up grail at
c. 1300, gral, "the Holy Grail," from Old French graal, greal "Holy Grail; cup," earlier "large shallow dish, basin," from Medieval Latin gradalis, also gradale, grasale, "a flat dish or shallow vessel." The original form is uncertain; the word is perhaps ultimately from Latin crater "bowl," which is from Greek krater "bowl, especially for mixing wine with water" (see crater (n.)).

Holy Grail is Englished from Middle English seint gral (c. 1300), also sangreal, sank-real (c. 1400), which seems to show deformation as if from sang real "royal blood" (that is, the blood of Christ) The object had been inserted into the Celtic Arthurian legends by 12c., perhaps in place of some pagan otherworldly object. It was said to be the cup into which Joseph of Arimathea received the last drops of blood of Christ (according to the writers who picked up the thread of Chrétien de Troyes' "Perceval") or the dish from which Christ ate the Last Supper (Robert de Boron), and ultimately was identified as both ("þe dische wiþ þe blode," "Joseph of Aramathie," c. 1350?).
grain (n.) Look up grain at
early 14c., "a small, hard seed," especially of one of the cereal plants, also as a collective singular, "seed of wheat and allied grasses used as food;" also "something resembling grain; a hard particle of other substances" (salt, sand, later gunpowder, etc.), from Old French grain, grein (12c.) "seed, grain; particle, drop; berry; grain as a unit of weight," from Latin granum "seed, a grain, small kernel," from PIE root *gre-no- "grain" (see corn (n.1)). From late 14c. as "a species of cereal plant." In the U.S., where corn has a specialized sense, it is the general word (used of wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.).

Figuratively, "the smallest possible quantity," from late 14c. From early 15c. in English as the smallest unit of weight (originally the weight of a plump, dry grain of wheat or barley from the middle of the ear). From late 14c as "roughness of surface; a roughness as of grains." In reference to wood, "quality due to the character or arrangement of its fibers," 1560s; hence, against the grain (1650), a metaphor from carpentry: cutting across the fibers of the wood is more difficult than cutting along them.

Earliest sense of the word in English was "scarlet dye made from insects" (early 13c.), a sense also in the Old French collateral form graine; see kermes for the evolution of this sense, which was frequent in Middle English; also compare engrain. In Middle English grain also could mean "seed of flowers; pip of an apple, grape, etc.; a berry, legume, nut." Grain alcohol attested by 1854.
grained Look up grained at
in compounds, "having grains" (of a specified kind), 1520s; see grain (n.).
grainy (adj.) Look up grainy at
1610s, "full of grains," from grain + -y (2). Photographic sense is from 1900. In Middle English, grain also was used as an adjective, "like grain, lumpy, spotted" (early 15c.). Related: Graininess.
grallatorial (adj.) Look up grallatorial at
"of or pertaining to wading birds," 1825, from Latin grallotores "stilt-walkers," plural of grallator "one who walks on stilts," from grallae "stilts," ultimately from stem of gradi "to walk, go" (see grade (n.)). Grallatores was formerly used as the name of an order of birds comprising herons, cranes, etc. Related: Grallatory (1835).
gram (n.) Look up gram at
also gramme, metric unit of weight, 1797, from French gramme (18c.), from Late Latin gramma "small weight," from Greek gramma "small weight," a special use of the classical word meaning "a letter of the alphabet" (see -gram). Adopted into English about two years before it was established in France as a unit in the metric system by law of 19 frimaire, year VIII (1799). "There seems to be no possible objection to adopting the more convenient shorter form, except that the -me records the unimportant fact that the word came to us through French" [Fowler].
gramary (n.) Look up gramary at
early 14c., gramarye, "grammar," also "learning, erudition," hence "magic, enchantment" (late 15c.), a variant of grammar; perhaps from Old French gramare, gramaire "grammar," also "book of conjuring or magic" (hence Modern French grimaire "gibberish, incomprehensible nonsense"). Gramarye was revived by Scott ("Lay of the Last Minstrel," 1805) in the "dark magic" sense.
gramercy (interj.) Look up gramercy at
c. 1300, exclamation of thanks, later of surprise, from Old French grant-merci, gran merci "great thanks, many thanks," from gran (see grand (adj.)) + merci "reward, favor, thanks" (see mercy (n.)). Modern French merci "thank you" is a shortening of this.

New York City's Gramercy Park is named for the Gramercy Farm which once stood there; the first part of the name is an 18c. folk-etymology from Crommeshie Fly, the name of a former marsh or shallow pond that stood nearby, itself a mangling of New Netherlands Dutch Crommessie Vly, the first part of which represents either *Krom Moerasje "little crooked swamp" or *Krom Messje "little crooked knife," said to have been the name of a brook flowing into (or out of) the pond.
gramineous (adj.) Look up gramineous at
1650s, from Latin gramineus "of grass, grassy," from gramen (genitive graminis) "grass, fodder," from PIE *gras-men-, suffixed form of root *gras- "to devour" (see gastric). The Latin adjective also is the source of the botanical order of Gramineae.
graminivorous (adj.) Look up graminivorous at
"feeding on grass," 1739, from gramini-, comb. form of Latin gramen (genitive graminis) "grass, fodder" (see gramineous) + -vorous.
grammar (n.) Look up grammar at
late 14c., "Latin grammar, rules of Latin," from Old French gramaire "grammar; learning," especially Latin and philology, also "(magic) incantation, spells, mumbo-jumbo" (12c., Modern French grammaire), an "irregular semi-popular adoption" [OED] of Latin grammatica "grammar, philology," perhaps via an unrecorded Medieval Latin form *grammaria. The classical Latin word is from Greek grammatike (tekhne) "(art) of letters," referring both to philology and to literature in the broadest sense, fem. of grammatikos (adj.) "pertaining to or versed in letters or learning," from gramma "letter" (see -gram). An Old English gloss of it was stæfcræft (see staff (n.)).

A much broader word in Latin and Greek; restriction of the meaning to "systematic acount of the rules and usages of language" is a post-classical development. Until 16c. limited to Latin; in reference to English usage by late 16c., thence "rules of a language to which speakers and writers must conform" (1580s). Meaning "a treatise on grammar" is from 1520s. For the "magic" sense, compare gramary. The sense evolution is characteristic of the Dark Ages: "learning in general, knowledge peculiar to the learned classes," which included astrology and magic; hence the secondary meaning of "occult knowledge" (late 15c. in English), which evolved in Scottish into glamour (q.v.).

A grammar-school (late 14c.) originally was a school for learning Latin, which was begun by memorizing the grammar. In U.S. (1842) the term was put to use in the graded system for a school between primary and secondary where English grammar is one of the subjects taught. The word is attested earlier in surnames (late 12c.) such as Robertus Gramaticus, Richard le Gramarie, whence the modern surname Grammer.
grammarian (n.) Look up grammarian at
late 14c., "writer on (Latin) grammar; philologist, etymologist;" in general use, "learned man," from Old French gramairien "wise man, person who knows Latin; magician" (Modern French grammairien), agent noun from grammaire (see grammar).
grammatical (adj.) Look up grammatical at
1520s, "of or pertaining to grammar," from Middle French grammatical and directly from Late Latin grammaticalis "of a scholar," from grammaticus "pertaining to grammar" (see grammar). Related: Grammatically (c. 1400).
grammatist (n.) Look up grammatist at
1580s, "grammarian," from French grammatiste (16c.), from Medieval Latin grammatista, from Greek grammatistes "one who teaches letters," from gramma "a drawing; a letter, character" (see -gram).
grammatolatry (n.) Look up grammatolatry at
"concern for the letter (of Scripture) without regard for the spirit," 1847 (German Grammatolatrie is attested by 1842), from Latinized form of Greek grammatik-, comb. form of gramma "letter" (see -gram) + -latry "worship of." Probably formed with allusion to idolatry.
Grammy (n.) Look up Grammy at
statuette awarded by the American National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1959, from the gram- in gramophone, on the model of Emmy.
gramophile (n.) Look up gramophile at
fan of gramophone records, 1922, from gramophone + -phile.
gramophone (n.) Look up gramophone at
"machine for recording and reproducing sounds by needle-tracing on some solid material," 1887, trademark by German-born U.S. inventor Emil Berliner (1851-1929), an inversion of phonogram (1884) "the tracing made by a phonograph needle," which was coined from Greek phone "voice, sound," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say" (see fame (n.)) + gramma "something written" (see -gram).

Berliner's machine used a flat disc and succeeded with the public. Edison's phonograph used a cylinder and did not. Despised by linguistic purists (Weekley calls gramophone "An atrocity formed by reversing phonogram") who tried at least to amend it to grammophone, it was replaced by record player after mid-1950s. There also was a graphophone (1886).