Grit Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Do you know the meaning of grit? Today, we’re exploring the word grit to uncover its definition, etymology, and much, much more.

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When you hear someone compliment another by saying they have grit — what exactly do they mean? What is the definition of grit? And how can someone “have” grit? 

You have questions, and we have answers — read on to discover everything you need to know about the term grit, including its definition, origin, and more.  

What Is the Definition of Grit?

To begin our journey towards understanding the word grit, let’s take a look at a few definitions provided by three trusted English dictionaries below:

  • When used as a noun, the Cambridge Dictionary says grit can be defined as very small pieces of stone or sand. 
  • According to the Collins Dictionary, if someone has grit, they have the courage and determination to continue doing something —even though it’s very difficult. 
  • Lastly, says the word grit means indomitable spirit or pluck. 

After reviewing the definitions listed above, we can conclude that the word grit is a homonym — aka, a word with multiple meanings. It can refer to tiny loose pieces of sand, or it can be defined as unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. 

In addition, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us that grit can also be used as a transitive verb meaning “to cause,” “to grind,” or “grate together.”

What Is the Origin of Grit?

After proving people with high levels of grit are more likely to be successful in life, researcher Angela Duckworth introduced the idea of “grit,” defining it as passion and perseverance toward very long-term goals. 

That said, the quality of grit is nothing new. In fact, examples of grit can be found dating all the way back to Charles Portis’ 1968 novel “True Grit,” where a young girl in the 1800s perseveres through extreme difficulty and struggle. 

So, where did the word grit originate?

In the sense of solidity of character in showing pluck, determination, and spirit, the American word grit is likely from the early 19th century, possibly deriving from the notion of gritting one’s teeth as a sign of determination.

What Are Synonyms of Grit?

Learning synonyms is not only a great way to further your understanding of a certain word, but it can also help to improve both your oral and writing skills.

The synonyms of grit include:

  • Dust
  • Lumps
  • Backbone
  • Guts
  • Abrasive particles
  • Powder
  • Firmness
  • Gravel
  • Toughness
  • Gritstone 
  • Spunk
  • Resilience
  • Pebbles
  • Sand
  • Foreign matter
  • Talent
  • Determination 
  • Fortitude
  • Moxie
  • Daring
  • Tenseness 
  • Bravery

What Are the Antonyms of Grit?

After learning the synonyms of a word, it can be helpful to discover the antonyms, too. The study of antonyms will help you choose the most appropriate word as you communicate and sharpen your overall sense of language. 

The antonyms of grit include

  • Cowardice
  • Timidity
  • Weakness
  • Spineless
  • Weakness
  • Fear
  • Wimp
  • Gutless
  • Yielding
  • Cravenness
  • Vacillation

Examples of Grit in a Sentence

Now that you know what grit means, it’s time to practice using it in a sentence. To help, we’ve put together several usage examples for you below:

Yuck! A bit of grit just fell into my eye.

The next step says to repeat the process until there is no dirt or grit in the water.

For sheer grit, Barney and Becca deserve at least a special mention.

The chef’s feedback mentioned the gritty texture of the potatoes, but we still got high remarks so the flavor must have been on point!

To prevent hydroplaning, my dad spread salt and grit on the icy roads.

Umm, I don’t think the cake mixture is supposed to be this rough and gritty.

Be sure to use a sanding block with 100 to 120 grit sandpaper for smaller areas.

My psychologist says I have grit and determination; the perfect combo to beating an illness!

Before you frost the cake, you might want to taste the frosting first to make sure it’s not too thick or gritty.

During Janet’s TED talk on grit, it was said that self-control and resilience are key.

If you want to win an achievement award, you’ll need to set long-term goals and have grit.

I can’t help but clench my jaw and grit my teeth at night; the grating sound drives my S.O. crazy!

Mom wants us to wash the grit and street dirt off our hands before eating dinner.


Derived from the Old English grēot, grit can refer to texture, such as coarse sandstone or grindstone. It can also be defined as firmness of character, invincible spirit, or pluck. 

Whether used to describe the fineness of sand or in lieu of the word determination, grit is a great word that can surely enhance your overall vocabulary. To discover more interesting words, check out our website where you’ll also find helpful grammar tools, useful tips, and more. 


  1. History of Grit | Idiom Origins 
  2. GRIT English Definition and Meaning |
  3. Grit Definition & Meaning |
  4. Grit definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  5. GRIT | definition | the Cambridge English Dictionary