Printable Version
Pronunciation: grayt-fêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Thankful, feeling gratitude. 2. Pleasing, agreeable, as to doze off into grateful sleep.

Notes: If cheerful means "full of cheer", colorful, "full of color", and hopeful, "full of hope", shouldn't grateful mean "full of grates"? Seems logical. Assuming the grate is full of coals or logs, the Wordnet dictionary example, "the grateful warmth of the fire", fits right in with this interpretation. But, no, as the Word History will show, today's Good Word is not related to grate the noun or verb, but rather to the noun gratitude.

In Play: We can be grateful for large things: "The executives of BP Oil were grateful for their bonuses, given for their safety record in 2010." We can also be grateful for small things: "Apparently Leah Tarde and Marshall Artz haven't spoken since Leah told Marshall that she would be grateful if he danced on the floor rather than on her feet."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an oddball: an adjective derived from another adjective, grate "pleasing, agreeable". We can still find this otherwise defunct word in ingrate, a person who feels no gratitude. This grate came from Latin gratus "pleasing", a word which, with the assistance of French, also gave us grace. The suffix -ful was probably added to distinguish this grate from the other two. The verb grate "to scrape harshly" came from French gratter, a word borrowed by Old French from the Old Germanic word that went on to become Modern German kratzen "scratch". Finally, grate in the sense of a lattice of bars came from the medieval Latin grata, the descendant of classical Latin cratis "wickerwork". (We are, of course, grateful to Donald C. Schark for suggesting today's very Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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