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A gravelly beach (sense 1) on Therasia, one of the Cyclades islands in Greece.

From Middle English gravelli (covered with gravel or sand; (pathology) containing sand-like matter),[1] from gravel (sand; grain of stand; gravel, pebbles; (pathology) sand-like matter in the urine, calculus)[2] + -lī (suffix forming adjectives).[3] Gravel is derived from Old French gravel, gravele, gravelle (gravel; (pathology) calculus) (modern French gravelle ((pathology) calculus)), from grave (coarse sand, gravel; seashore) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *gʰreh₁w- (to grind); modern French grève (riverbank; shore, strand)) + -ele (diminutive suffix). The English word is analysable as gravel +‎ -y (suffix forming adjectives meaning ‘having the quality of’).[4]



gravelly (comparative more gravelly, superlative most gravelly)

  1. Full of, covered with, or similar to gravel or pebbles.
    Synonyms: gravelish, gravelous
    Antonym: ungravelly
    • 1577, Dydymus Mountaine [pseudonym; Thomas Hill], Henry Dethicke [i.e., Henry Dethick], “Of the Kindes of Dung, and which Well Commended for the Dunging of Gardens”, in The Gardeners Labyrinth: [], London: [] Henry Bynneman, →OCLC, page 19:
      The dung which men make [] is greatly miſlyked, for that by nature it is hoter and burneth the ſeedes ſowne in that earth: ſo that this is not to bee uſed, unleſſe the ground be a barren, grauelly or verie louſe ſand, lacking ſtrength in it, which being on ſuche wiſe, requyreth the more helpe of nouriſhment and fatning, through this kinde of dung: []
    • 1791, Oliver Goldsmith, “Of the Internal Structure of the Earth”, in An History of the Earth, and Animated Nature. [], new edition, volume I, London: [] F[rancis] Wingrave, successor to Mr. [John] Nourse, [], →OCLC, page 49:
      This earth, however, is not to be ſuppoſed entirely pure, but is mixed with much ſtony and gravelly matter, from the layers lying immediately beneath it. It generally happens, that the ſoil is fertile in proportion to the quantity that this putrified mold bears to the gravelly mixture; and as the former predominates, ſo far is the vegetation upon it more luxuriant.
  2. Of a voice: unpleasantly harsh or rasping.
  3. (pathology) Caused by or involving gravel (kidney stones).
    Synonyms: gravelish, gravelous
  4. (obsolete) Full of or covered with sand; sandy.

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  1. ^ gravellī, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ gravel, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ -lī, suf.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ gravelly, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021; gravelly, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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