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From grue (to shudder) +‎ -some. Compare Danish and Norwegian grusom (horrible), German grausam (cruel), and Dutch gruwzaam (gruesome; cruel).


gruesome (comparative gruesomer or more gruesome, superlative gruesomest or most gruesome)

  1. Repellently frightful and shocking; horrific or ghastly.
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 6
      In the middle of the floor lay a skeleton, every vestige of flesh gone from the bones to which still clung the mildewed and moldered remnants of what had once been clothing. Upon the bed lay a similar gruesome thing, but smaller, while in a tiny cradle near-by was a third, a wee mite of a skeleton.
    • 2011 May 4, “Bin Laden was unarmed when shot dead”, in Al Jazeera[1]:
      Jay Carney said that the US was considering whether to release photos of bin Laden after he was killed on Sunday but that the photos were gruesome and could be inflammatory.