Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A lively, bright person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. little creature;
  • n. heath.
  • v. To irritate or annoy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A cricket or grasshopper.
  • n. Any small eel.
  • n. The broad-nosed eel. See glut.
  • n. Heath.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cricket; a grasshopper.
  • n. The sand-eel; a small and very lively eel.
  • n. A short-legged hen.
  • n. One of a class of vagabond dancers and tumblers.
  • n. Heath. Also griglan.

Etymologies

Middle English, dwarf.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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 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 Scottish "crick"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And all the while Tom was swimming about in the river, with a pretty little lace-collar of gills about his neck, as lively as a grig, and as clean as a fresh-run salmon.

    The Water Babies

  • The learned gentleman who does the withering business and who blights all opponents with his gloomy sarcasm is as merry as a grig at a French watering – place.

    Bleak House

  • Honestly, I have nothing to compare it to either, and neither does the "grig!"

    The WritingYA Weblog: That One Question, Finally Asked

  • Last night, a person whom I always think of as a "merry auld grig" One of my fave Dickensonian words asked me The Question that nobody has asked -- not my mother, not my father, not my curious siblings, not my writing group.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • This post has been removed by the author. grig-io il blogorroico May 3, 2007 2:10 AM # | Delete

    Embed Picasa Web Albums Slideshow

  • Rolando the Lasso, and flaunt on the flimsyfilmsies for to grig my collage juniorees who, though they flush fuchsia, are they octette and virginity in my shade but always my figurants.

    Finnegans Wake

  • It had been a pleasant surprise when Mag-grig had misinterpreted Uther's question.

    Ghost King

  • Before the eyes of the attackers the giant body shrank and Mag-grig pushed forward to stare at the dead but now human face.

    Ghost King

  • And all the while Tom was swimming about in the river, with a pretty little lace collar of gills about his neck, as lively as a grig, and as clean as a fresh-run salmon.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 2

  • Polly was happy as a grig, and all the others equally so.

    Peggy Stewart at School

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Comments

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  • Yay! Thank you, hernesheir.

    October 20, 2011

  • Here, An eel list.

    October 20, 2011

  • Has anyone made an eel list yet?

    October 20, 2011

  • A grasshopper, an eel, a small hen. You pick.

    October 20, 2011

  • I agree. Pandora's box.

    July 19, 2009

  • you do not see the flameworthy (heh heh) possibilities of a "Gay as..." list?

    July 18, 2009

  • Pandora was gay? *confuzzled*

    July 18, 2009

  • I've read gay as a grig, a derivation of "merry as a grig", presumably.

    one wants a "gay as..." list but it's a Pandora's box.

    July 12, 2009

  • "'I am obliged to no one, Mrs Newton, and I am only too well aware that you are trying to grig me.'"
    --The Winner of Sorrow by Brian Lynch, p 106

    July 12, 2009

  • "Bonden told him that his head was quite healed, 'could be hit with a top-maul and never a word' and himself lively as a parcel of grigs..."
    --P. O'Brian, The Yellow Admiral, 198

    I'm guessing this is in the sense of the 6th definition sionnach listed. Though for all I know a parcel of eels is just as pleasant.

    March 19, 2008

  • From "A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, Obsolete" (1860)

    GRIG:

    (1) Heath. Salop.
    (2) A cricket. Vаг. dial.
    (3) A small eel. Suffolk.
    (4) A farthing. An old cant term.
    (5) To pinch. Somerset.
    (6) A wag. " As merry as a grig." It is a corruption
    of Greek, q. v. "A merry grig, un plaisant compagnon," Miege.
    (7) A short-legged hen. Vаг. dial.

    Which makes one wonder, if this small word can spawn seven such diverse meanings, how in hell does anyone manage to communicate? You go to the bank for farthings to feed into the comestible-dispensing apparatus and come away with a couple of eels and a short-legged hen. Well, I suppose you could trade them for some magic beans....

    January 15, 2008

  • Tantalising for the poor dead. Smell of frilled beefsteaks to the starving gnawing their vitals. Desire to grig people.
    Joyce, Ulysses, 6

    January 1, 2007