Definition of grunt in English:



  • 1 (of an animal, especially a pig) make a low, short guttural sound.

    ‘an enormous pig grunted and shuffled in a sty outside’
    • ‘Even the horse grunted uneasily at her cold tone.’
    • ‘The huge walrus made another grunt and then wobbled itself away from us and across the few feet of exposed rocks and slipped into the water.’
    • ‘The large creatures were grunting and groaning, and their large, curved tusks flashed in the moonlight.’
    • ‘And you'll not hear a pig grunting or a hen cackling in many farmyards today.’
    • ‘The gorilla grunted louder, but still did not move from its repose.’
    • ‘The animals, used to hiding in lakes, grunted and huddled together in the shade at the back corner of their pen.’
    • ‘As the chimpanzees fed, our research assistants heard gorillas grunting and moving about in the undergrowth below the tree, apparently feeding on fallen fruits.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was a bush pig that would grunt and snuffle away when it spotted her.’
    • ‘Simon on the other hand is in love with cuddly toys, and also anything that chimes or makes a silly noise, especially cows mooing or pigs grunting.’
    • ‘The large pig grunted, and belched, much to the disgust of the students.’
    1. 1.1(of a person) make a low inarticulate sound, typically to express effort or indicate assent.
      ‘the men cursed and grunted as they lassoed the steer’
      [with direct speech] ‘‘What is it?’ he grunted irritably’
      [with object] ‘he grunted his approval and then walked back’
      • ‘He grunted again, before slouching off to the counter to order some drinks.’
      • ‘I mentally grunted and tried hard to make my steps not sound so much like stomps as I made my way to the doors.’
      • ‘Normally she was grunting and complaining about one thing or another in her usual mocking tone.’
      • ‘He ripped the sleeve of his shirt and tied the wound tight, again grunting with pain.’
      • ‘I just grunted in response, not even bothering to look up.’
      • ‘The adored child is gone, replaced by a hostile stranger who will only grunt, slam doors and stare blankly at the TV.’
      • ‘But now, in the woods, he shovels so ardently he is grunting.’
      • ‘Unlike her brother, who merely grunted in response, she was wide awake.’
      • ‘The man only grunted again and turned away.’
      • ‘Her brother merely grunted in reply and rolled onto his other side, facing the wall.’
      • ‘I grunt slightly in disgust at this display.’
      • ‘He grunted in acknowledgement and we began our search of the top floor.’
      • ‘I tried to say something, but just grunted slightly.’
      • ‘She looked at him with an angered, annoyed face, and grunted under her breath.’
      • ‘It happens in the best of marriages when your partner asks you about your day and you just grunt or turn away - or vice versa.’
      • ‘Every time you chose a certain piece of clothing, the man would grunt his assent.’
      • ‘Just like the last anniversary, I still strain and grunt to push out each infrequent update but ultimately it's still good fun.’
      • ‘The first man grunted angrily and shifted his spear in his grasp.’
      • ‘I kissed her on her cheek and all she could do was grunt.’
      • ‘He just grunted but he got one out and handed it to me.’


  • 1A low, short guttural sound made by an animal or a person.

    ‘with snorts and grunts the animals were coaxed down the ramp’
    ‘he answered with a grunt and made no further reply’
    • ‘With many sleepy grunts and yawns, the soldiers dressed, ate a hurried meal, then slowly formed ranks.’
    • ‘The only sounds he heard were the crickets chirping, the manes and tails being swished about and the occasional grunts and snorts from the animals that occupy the stables.’
    • ‘The crack of helmets smacking helmets and the grunts and groans all had a familiar ring.’
    • ‘The fighting was still noiseless, like a macabre puppet show, save for the snarls and grunts of his companions.’
    • ‘Sometimes it's just a grunt or two, a guttural sound akin to some sort of proto-speech.’
    • ‘Only guttural grunts and surreal words-in-isolation issued from my brain and mouth while the record played.’
    • ‘He could hear voices behind him, the low, guttural grunts of goblins or orcs.’
    • ‘They form a sort of telegraphese, an abbreviated form of communication that may have more in common with the grunts of Neanderthals than the written language of modern humankind.’
    • ‘They shifted their hefty soldier's packs on their backs with a few grunts.’
    • ‘Hearing Jennifer's weak little grunts and moans every time she does something like open a door is also annoying: realistic though it may be, you don't hear the male heroes complaining.’
    • ‘She sighed after the original grunt at the unwanted physical contact and thought about how she couldn't stand him.’
    • ‘Her boyfriend Dave was reading the evening paper, emitting the occasional odd grunt.’
    • ‘He has a particularly disagreeable grunt when he does not understand what you say, and desires a repetition.’
    • ‘As they came close to the end of the forest, grunts, shouts, and curses were heard.’
    • ‘Their vocalisations range from low guttural contact grunts to alarm barks and screams.’
    • ‘A hand grabbed his arm and he shook it loose, only turning to face his assailant when he heard a very definite female grunt.’
    • ‘Indeed, the cyclists are treated as animals - the only noise they make is a series of equine whinnies, snorts, and grunts.’
    • ‘Most players these days seem to insist on vocalising a very unattractive sounding grunt whenever they hit the ball, as if in some way the making of this noise actually improves their performance.’
    • ‘If your language consists of little more than guttural grunts and cherry pie, you can't be blamed for not getting it.’
    • ‘The next morning I awoke to the bellows, grunts and snorts of a dozen huge elephant seals wallowing on the black beach below the sleeping dongas (cargo containers).’
  • 2North American informal A low-ranking soldier or unskilled worker.

    ‘he went from grunt to senior executive vice president in five years’
    • ‘The most invidious policy was rotating officers out of infantry companies after six months when grunts had no such option.’
    • ‘If you were applying for a grunt programmer or contract design position, then sure, the traditional route may work better.’
    • ‘What measure of fitness is needed for a sedentary, far-behind-the-lines soldier who by pushing buttons and analyzing data can kill more of the enemy than a battalion of grunts?’
    • ‘This time he scrutinizes the sacrifices of warrior grunts rather than political wonks and politicians.’
    • ‘Before he dreams about the ambush at night, he replays what his grunt training could've made him do better.’
    • ‘He is a moving target, who also exhibits what the American military call a ‘grunt’ mentality, and a grunt is an infantryman in the finest sense of the word.’
    • ‘Most of the participants were ordinary combat grunts, with very few high-ranking staff and operations officers.’
    • ‘For a ruling class man to get a working class grunt to pay that much attention showed how good he was.’
    • ‘An infantryman who can't handle the stress of combat is liable to get himself, and some of his fellow grunts, killed in combat.’
    • ‘Unlike the grunts, he had a better view of the larger picture, but he may not have articulated that to those on the ground.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I've been a jack-squat soldier surrounded by grunts more times than you could imagine.’
    • ‘Would you be an instinctive soldier, a brilliant commander, or a grunt?’
    • ‘Now, the army was called back in to do all the grunt work.’
    • ‘His descriptions of the war at the level of the grunts in the line, though not novel, are where this book shines.’
    • ‘I did what I did because I was a dumb second lieutenant with a bunch of grunts, and we didn't know any better.’
    • ‘It's a sad fact that money doesn't exactly leak down to the actual grunt workers.’
    • ‘Soldiers are described as cannon fodder, as dumb grunts.’
    • ‘Many financial firm victims, far from being mega-rich, were young traders and technicians, the grunts of the world capital markets.’
    • ‘The love affair was company-wide, although not necessarily shared by the grunts, as one former grunt writes.’
    • ‘Its heroes are Vietnam grunts who only want to survive, but who give it their all because their sense of responsibility to each other and to themselves demands it.’
  • 3British informal [mass noun] Mechanical power, especially in a motor vehicle.

    ‘what the big wagon needs is grunt, and the turbo does the business’
    • ‘Despite being a bike engine, it's got plenty of grunt.’
    • ‘There is real grunt in every gear and sending the revs soaring towards the red line before snatching the next ratio is to indulge in an act of pure ecstasy.’
    • ‘For years they've produced cars with enormous grunt and mediocre handling.’
    • ‘What really let it down in my mind was the lack of low-end grunt.’
    • ‘That said, some find it a bit awkward to get into while others find it a little lacking in grunt.’
    • ‘Second and third gears both provided plenty of grunt, allowing it to pull out of corners with maximum flair.’
    • ‘A reminder that Englishmen have more than grunt and guts is badly required, and what will be so frustrating if changes are not made is that the players are ready and waiting for the opportunity.’
    • ‘Still, if the only driving you're going to do is on a motorway or smooth, sealed roads, and you need a bit of grunt to get by the odd old fella towing a caravan, it is more than capable.’
    • ‘The three classes have varying degrees of grunt and power and a new points scoring system will be in force to help decide one champion for each of the three classes.’
    • ‘Yet it has more than enough grunt to see you through any overtaking manoeuvre.’
    • ‘The steering, while precise, feels heavy, the nose planting firmly entering a corner with plenty of grunt to pull it smoothly out the other side.’
    • ‘Possibly another reason was that US drivers don't like to change down so much and prefer mid-range grunt to a lower gear.’
    • ‘It has got some grunt but it never really comes alive.’
    • ‘The Prime Minister prevented himself from being dominated by the sheer intellectual grunt of his Chancellor by having Mandelson spin a delicate web to contain him.’
    • ‘Nobody ever impulse-buys one because of its alluring engine grunt or two-inch mudflaps.’
    • ‘There's lots of grunt in there, but from the outside nothing appears to be happening.’
    • ‘You can all jump in a road car and say ‘that feels like it's got plenty of grunt.’’
    • ‘Delivering turbocharged grunt to all four wheels might make it easier to deploy more power more of the time, but that doesn't necessarily make for more fun behind the wheel.’
    • ‘When we hit the track on day two and turned traction control off, the sheer grunt became apparent.’
    • ‘There is a little less grunt about the 1.9-litre diesel engine than you might get with a 2.0 elsewhere, but this has a handy flipside.’
    driving force, horsepower, hp, acceleration
    View synonyms
  • 4An edible shoaling fish of tropical coasts and coral reefs, able to make a loud noise by grinding its teeth and amplifying the sound in the swim bladder.

    • ‘There were plenty of fish: blue-striped grunts, moray eels, butterflyfish, bright yellow trumpetfish and multi-coloured wrasse.’
    • ‘There are a variety of other edible pan fish that may show up, such as grunts and porgies.’
    • ‘I zoom round the other divers seeking good camera angles, lining up divers with outcrops of coral and sponges, then flitting on to catch shoals of grunts and jacks and all the usual reef fish.’
    • ‘Golden eye or yellowtail grunts, chubs or scads would move unhurriedly across, changing direction with uncanny synchronisation.’
    • ‘It is nonetheless a beautiful shallow reef with huge areas of elk and staghorn coral sheltering shoals of grunt, snapper and goatfish.’


Old English grunnettan, of Germanic origin and related to German grunzen; probably originally imitative.