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Alternative forms[edit]


From present particle of gruel (to exhaust, punish), from gruel (noun).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɡɹʊə.lɪŋ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɡɹu.lɪŋ/, /ˈɡɹu.əl.ɪŋ/
  • (file)
  • (file)


gruelling (comparative more gruelling, superlative most gruelling)

  1. So difficult or taxing as to make one exhausted; backbreaking.




gruelling (plural gruellings)

  1. (motor racing) A race in which the animal being raced finishes in a state of physical exhaustion.
    • 1869, John William Carleton, The Sporting review, ed. by 'Craven'., page 394:
      The expenses are considerably reduced, and one or two men are prevented from carrying off nearly all the races ; for though " the spirit" may be ever so " willing," the " flesh is weak," and cannot stand more than five or six gruellings in a single day.
    • 1871, The COURSING CALENDAR For The AUTUMN SEASON 1870, page 229:
      Miss Harriet just got there first from Vauban, the latter being leg weary from his previous gruellings ; the bitch scored four more before giving way to the dog, who made some nice driving points ; Miss Harriet, coming again, finished a good trial an easy winner.
    • 1907, James Blyth, The irrevocable, and other stories, page 230:
      The course was given to the black puppy, but his chance was generally considered to have been utterly destroyed by the two gruellings he had received.
    • 1949, H. Edwards Clarke, The modern greyhound, page 66:
      When "Red Robin's" other great son, "Dee Rock", was retired to stud in 1935 I recollect, too, the pessimistic prophecies of those sceptics that a dog that had endured so many gruellings in the field would never accomplish much at stud.
  2. A gruelling ordeal.
    • 1919, John Castell Hopkins, Robert John Renison, Canada at War, 1914-1918: A Record of Heroism and Achievement:
      It was the hardest fighting that our Canadians have been up against, and the manner in which they took these terrible gruellings and assaults is one of the most creditable occurrences in the annals of this great war."
    • 1934, Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, George Dawes Hicks, George Stephens Spinks, The Hibbert Journal - Volume 33, page 53:
      Its life may be but for its hour, amid the gruellings of the world, but for this hour it justifies both its kind and nature, which has produced it, and though it fade and perish, yet it lives as the patterning embodiment of a whole striving after beauty of a creative nature.
    • 2005, Dai Vaughan, Non-return, →ISBN, page 81:
      'Give me a buzz when you think you can squeeze me in between English lit and the pinball championships and the gruellings of overwork, OK?'



  1. present participle and gerund of gruel