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Etymology 1[edit]

The word is often used in the phrase "merry as a grig". The word is of uncertain origin, though various theories have been suggested, such as a corruption of "merry as a cricket" or "merry as a Greek", as in William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida: "Then she's a merry Greek indeed." Johnson suggested that the word originally meant "anything below the natural size" (compare Swedish krik and Scots crick).


grig (plural grigs)

  1. (obsolete) A dwarf.
  2. A cricket or grasshopper.
    • 1926, Hope Mirrlees, chapter 5, in Lud-in-the-Mist:
      The black rooks will fly away, my son, and you'll come back as brown as a berry, and as merry as a grig.
  3. A small or young eel.
    • 1808–10, William Hickey, Memoirs of a Georgian Rake, Folio Society 1995, p. 41:
      [W]e assembled at one o'clock, at two sat down to dinner, consisting of capital stewed grigs, a dish Mrs Burt was famous for dressing, a large joint of roast or boiled meat, with proper vegetables and a good-sized pudding or pie [] .
  4. Specifically, the broad-nosed eel. See glut.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Welsh grug, Cornish grig.


grig (plural grigs)

  1. (UK, dialect) Heath or heather.
    • 1791, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, Transactions of the Society of Arts, volume 9, page 80:
      The further method of tillage pursued, was to make fallows; and if the season permitted, so that the ground could be cleared and burnt off, to destroy the grig or heath, []

Etymology 3[edit]


grig (third-person singular simple present grigs, present participle grigging, simple past and past participle grigged)

  1. (transitive) To irritate or annoy.




Cognate with English grig.



  1. To tantalize by showing without sharing a thing.


  • Jacob Poole (d. 1827) (before 1828) William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, published 1867, page 43