Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Grotty

In'honour' of the head cold I've picked up...

grotty [grot-ee]

Informal English

1 unwell

2 Unpleasant and of poor quality; wretchedly shabby


Rooms cost half as much as in nearby hotels, the building has no disabled access and its grotty shopfronts stick out on an otherwise glamorous street. (Nehru’s London watering hole prepares to take last orders, The Economist, Sep 2017 )

As for afters, forget a grotty gym shower and leaping into your street-clothes: the post-workout is as much fun as the class. (Emma Woolf, Psycle Is London’s Hardcore Answer To SoulCycle, March 2014)

Robin Tebbut, What does the cold virus get in return for making its host feel grotty?, The Guardian Nov 2017)

When the walls look grotty, I feel grotty. I'm sure once it's brightened up, I can make do with what's here. (Kathy Herman, The Real Enemy: A Novel)

When the walls look grotty, I feel grotty. I'm sure once it's brightened up, I can make do with what's here. (Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream)

Ursula Le Guin described SF and fantasy authors as “realists of a larger reality,” not a grimier reality. Too much gritty can be just grotty. (Robin Turner, Grit, gritty, grotty, Jul 2016)


Slang shortening of grotesque, it had a brief vogue 1964 as part of the argot popularized by The Beatles in 'A Hard Day's Night.' It unconsciously echoes Middle English groti 'muddy, slimy,' from Old English grotig 'earthy,' from grot 'particle.' (Online Etymology Dictionary)

The Macmillan English dictionary for Advanced learners defines grotty as ‘dirty or unpleasant’, as in 'a grotty hotel'. The word has quite a colourful history. It is generally believed to derive from grotesque, meaning either ‘strange and ugly’ or ‘extremely inappropriate and incongruous’. Grotesque, in turn, appears to be related to grotto and the association with something bizarre and ugly is said to come from the fact that strange and colourful wall paintings were found in the excavated basements and cellars of old buildings in Italy. These wall paintings were then described as grotesque because of their association with grottos (OneStopEnglish)

Tags: adjective, british, g, slang, wordsmith: sallymn

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