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1. shockingly repellent; inspiring horror.
  • "Gruesome evidence of human sacrifice."
1570, from Middle English gruen "feel horror, shudder" (c.1300), possibly from Middle Dutch gruwen or Middle LatinG. gruwen "shudder with fear" (confer Ger. grausam "cruel"), or from a Scand. source (confer Dan. grusom "cruel," grue "to dread," though others hold that these are Low Ger. loan-words). One of the many Scottish words popularized in England by Scott's novels.