Definition of grim in English:



  • 1Very serious or gloomy.

    ‘his grim expression’
    • ‘In a brief, grim speech to the nation late on Saturday, the president did not say if he accepted their resignations.’
    • ‘Nick's broad face is now very grim.’
    • ‘Half an hour later, the men came home - trying not to look grim and worried.’
    • ‘I looked up to see Meredith, her expression grim, staring down at me.’
    • ‘But she could see everyone else paying close attention, their expressions slowly becoming more serious and grim.’
    • ‘The statement came shortly after staff at the five-year-old firm, which employs 11,000, arrived for work looking grim as they awaited news.’
    • ‘Then he'd walked away, looking so grim she'd known something was horribly wrong.’
    • ‘"There's been a problem, " Gary explained, his expression grim.’
    • ‘Andrew entered through a side door to the observation room and stood beside the Doctor, face grim with worry.’
    • ‘Charlie's voice was grim, and there was little humour in her joke.’
    • ‘This time, none of them were laughing; they looked grim and serious.’
    • ‘Lowering the hand holding his cordless phone, Charles walks up to Tyler, a grim expression on his handsome face.’
    • ‘She looked up to see his grim expression and immediately sobered.’
    • ‘His entire demeanor had changed, becoming hardened and grim, determination coupled with a strength that carried him past exhaustion.’
    • ‘Lari's expression turned grim, ‘There is no way to get out of here.’’
    • ‘The headmaster and priest was there, a grim expression on his face.’
    • ‘Ross watches Alex's long, lean face fall into an expression of grim frustration, and for a moment he feels sorry for him.’
    • ‘Edward is cheerful, albeit in a rather dark way, while Cara is grim and determined.’
    • ‘Dr. Ashton emerges, a grim expression on his face.’
    • ‘The young man nodded, his expression frozen in grim acceptance.’
    stern, forbidding, uninviting, unapproachable, aloof, distant
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    1. 1.1Depressing or worrying to consider.
      ‘the grim news of the murder’
      • ‘This could be grim news for millions of consumers whose life savings are invested in pensions, endowments and other savings contracts.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But once they leave school, the outlook for many school dropouts remains grim.’
      • ‘Back in the summer, the prospects for Everton's season were looking pretty grim.’
      • ‘At first sight, the table makes for rather grim reading.’
      • ‘Those are just some of the grim realities that illustrate the sorry state of education in black America.’
      • ‘Some of the children will also be dressed in a black T-shirts as grim reminder of the drivers, passengers and pedestrians who died.’
      • ‘The grim discovery of the body was made by a farmer yesterday morning.’
      • ‘The employment outlook is grim for front-end staff with basic web design and development qualifications.’
      • ‘The alternative - settling for economic, cultural and demographic stagnation - is too grim to consider.’
      • ‘The 1,500-strong work force at the Gipsy Lane plant were given the grim news yesterday.’
      • ‘This means the prognosis is probably not as grim as conventional wisdom would have us believe.’
      • ‘Such grim and gloomy comparisons between today's economic slowdown and those of yesteryear are common.’
      • ‘If this all sounds unrelentingly grim I promise you it isn't.’
      • ‘The war was a grim reminder of the inhumanity of man to man.’
      • ‘Even when climate change is removed from the frame the picture remains grim.’
      • ‘And like most contemporary science fiction it offers a fairly grim view of the future.’
      • ‘However, Health Protection Agency Figures dating back to 1995 paint a far more grim picture.’
      • ‘The disease carries a grim prognosis - only 14 percent of patients survive 5 years.’
      • ‘His choice of language was a bit doom-laden, but his take on the current oil situation appears to justify his pretty grim view of what's in store.’
      • ‘But thankfully things are not as grim as they seem.’
      dreadful, dire, ghastly, horrible, horrendous, horrid, terrible, awful, appalling, frightful, shocking, unspeakable, atrocious, harrowing
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    2. 1.2(of humour) lacking genuine levity; black.
      ‘some moments of grim humour’
      • ‘Although it took 13 reconstructive surgeries in six years to put her back together, Bray cultivated a certain grim sense of humor about her injuries.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most of us use grim humour to cope with life's dark side.’
      • ‘One columnist who manages both to make sense of the situation and to wring some humor, however grim, out of it, is the gifted Diana West.’
      black, dark, mirthless, bleak, cynical, fatalistic
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  • 2(especially of a place) unattractive or forbidding.

    ‘rows of grim, dark housing developments’
    • ‘A couple of blocks away from the muzak and smooth elevators of the mall, I arrived at a grim neighbourhood of porn cinemas and shuffling vagrants.’
    • ‘The tiny port is dominated by a grim stronghold castle, previously home to the pirates who terrorised the coast for centuries.’
    • ‘They live in a house in the most unpromising of territory - a grim estate on the Charlton-Woolwich boundary - yet the interior of their home is fantastic.’
    • ‘In that film too, the Berlin I saw was a grim city, divided into east and west by a wall topped with barbed wire.’
    • ‘If I can be so bold as to generalise, relief centres are as grim as they are hectic.’
    • ‘When I first started reporting on Cuba more than a decade ago, the island was a grim place.’
    • ‘It is a grim suburb of Wishaw, composed of high-rise tower blocks and a network of lower-level blocks of flats, narrow alleyways and parking lots.’
    • ‘Arriving in the UK as a refugee, she and her mother ended up on a grim estate in Mitcham, Surrey.’
    • ‘An occasional oil-lamp burned in the upper stories of the grim tenements, above black shop-fronts.’
    • ‘They can't blame the frustrations of inner-city poverty for their actions, or the bleakness of life on a grim estate.’
    • ‘She saw a dark, grim street with drunks falling over their own feet and puking down the gutters.’
    • ‘The rear of Selfridges is a grim place, just a service road lined by characterless buildings, and totally unlike the elegance of the imposing frontage.’
    • ‘Ever wondered how the NHS struggles by in the grotty, run-down and ultimately grim areas of this country?’
    • ‘Those rooms are grim, but nothing out of the ordinary.’
    • ‘Bedford used to be a depressed, grim farming town, with nothing on offer for the weary traveller - just a lone truck stop and a café.’
    • ‘The first draft I write by hand in my local library, where the room is so grim there is nothing else to distract me, so I concentrate on the writing just to get out of there.’
    • ‘The vote of a single mum on a grim estate is currently worth a tiny fraction of the vote of a lawn-mowing Middle England mum in Basildon.’
    • ‘I walked on all the way to Dartford, which is a bit grim to be honest.’
    • ‘I had an image of a grim, gloomy hospital with stern faced staff.’
    bleak, dreary, dismal, dingy, wretched, miserable, disheartening, depressing, cheerless, comfortless, joyless, gloomy, sombre, uninviting, drab
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    1. 2.1Unrelentingly harsh.
      ‘few creatures thrive in this grim and hostile land’
      • ‘Others are angry but matter-of-fact about a lifestyle that seems unbearably grim to the outsider.’
      • ‘For many it was the hope of escaping the misery of their grim working lives that led them to sign up.’
      • ‘These tenant farmers often lived grim and bleak existences.’
      • ‘There are moments that will break your heart with their grim, bleak realism.’
      • ‘Rural life is shown as harsh and grim where the ablest and younger peasants sought to escape to the factories in the cities.’
      • ‘My goal was to record the grim daily lives of a people who had endured a half century of warfare.’
      • ‘The climate of Kolyma is extreme, even compared to the grim background of eastern Siberia.’
      • ‘The lives of agricultural and urban workers would have been just as grim.’
      • ‘Arizona is one of the three poorest states in the US and Flagstaff reflects that grim economic reality.’
      • ‘If you want to shape up, but running and rock climbing leave you cold, maybe it's time to consider something less grim and solitary.’
      merciless, cruel, ruthless, pitiless, savage, vicious, brutal, harsh, severe
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  • the grim reaper

    • A personification of death in the form of a cloaked skeleton wielding a large scythe.

      ‘he met the Grim Reaper a decade later’
      and → death
      • ‘Crucially, no-one else had died in Emmerdale over Christmas so it was odds-on the Grim Reaper was sharpening his scythe for someone come the turn of New Year.’
  • like (or for) grim death

    • With great determination.

      ‘we had to hold on like grim death’
      • ‘They held on like grim death to their advantage for eight minutes and actually came close to adding another score.’
      • ‘Argentina have won most of the plaudits so far, and they were certainly impressive with their movement, pace and skill, but they were also hanging on for grim death against the Ivory Coast at the end.’
      • ‘I couldn't hear a thing - I just held on for grim death.’
      • ‘People were hanging on for grim death as I looked around for the sick bag!’
      • ‘It would have made for marvelous photos, except that I was too busy hanging on to my horse for grim death.’
      • ‘I have seen people clinging on for grim death as they were almost tossed over the side.’
      • ‘‘Three of us clung on for grim death and we survived,’ said Paul McGeough of Australia ‘s Sydney Morning Herald.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Moments later they were hanging on for grim death.’
      • ‘They follow a proven formula: you get a job, you then get a mortgage and you then hang on like grim death to your job to pay off the mortgage.’


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