Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GRUESOME, adj. Also grousome, †grewsome, †groosom(e), †grusome, ¶gruisome (Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 228). Now adopted as St. Eng. under the influence of Scott.

1. Horrible, fearful, inspiring a shuddering dread or loathing (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems, Gl., grousome; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 243). Ayr. 1786  Burns Halloween xxiii.:
He takes a swirlie, auld moss-oak, For some black, grousome Carlin.
Slk. 1807  Hogg Mountain Bard 184:
Thy greesome [sic] grips were never skaithly.
Kcb. 1814  W. Nicholson Tales 48:
Had gru'some cauldrons ever boilin', An' scores o' slaves aroun' him toilin'.
Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf x.:
He's a grewsome spectacle for a crooked disciple, to be sure.
Edb. 1822  R. Wilson Poems 106:
Whare you an' I will aiblins win, In spite o' grousome death an' sin.
Mry. 1828  “J. Ruddiman” Tales 186:
I shook and trembled like an aspen leaf, for he had on a most gruesome look.
Ags. 1834  A. Smart Rhymes 92:
His gruesome visage! weel I kent it, For mony a day my heart it dauntit.
Gsw. 1884  H. Johnston Martha Spreull viii.:
Noo, this is a gey gruesome beginnin' to the story I'm gaun to tell ye.
Wgt. 1912  A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 80:
Their wey was stapt wi' clarts an' gruesome glaur.
Sc. 1929  Scots Mag. (Dec.) 197:
Aghast I glowr't at the grousome throng In their mort claith gouns arrayed.

2. With weakened sense: ugly, repulsive, dismal (gen. of the appearance). Also in n.Eng. dial. Rnf. 1790  A. Wilson Poems 102:
Here mony a wight, frae mony a place, . . . Exhibits mony a groosome face.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xx.:
A bonny lass will find favour wi' judge and jury, when they would strap up a grewsome carle like me for the fifteenth part of a flea's hide and tallow.
Rxb. 1821  A. Scott Poems 38:
He sent for grousome Willy Bennet, Wi' towzie pow, wherein a kame Perhaps for towmonds never came.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) viii.:
I looked myself in it [looking-glass] . . . and made a gruesome face.
Lnk. a.1832  W. Watt Poems (1860) 88:
Her face had a smack o' the gruesome and grim, Whilk did frae the fash o' a' wooers defend her.
Abd. 1868  W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 81:
Were ye heart-stawed wi' my maunders, Grewsome looks, and plaintive sang?

Hence gruesomely, adv., horribly, repulsively; gruesomeness, regret, distaste. Sc. 1834  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) IV. 121:
Then dinna girn sae gruesomely — but join me in a guffaw.
Rnf. 1889  D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 170:
It was with feelings somewhat mixed with pleasure and gruesomeness that . . . she saw James lift Nanny's right hand.

[Once in E.M.E. growsome, 1570. Grue, n.1 + suff. -some. Cf. Du. gruwzaam, horrible, Mid. Du. grouwsaem, Ger. grausam.]

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"Gruesome adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Oct 2018 <>



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