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

  • intransitive v. Scots To complain in a whining voice.
  • intransitive v. Scots To contort one's face; grimace.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To grimace; to snarl.
  • v. To whinge, moan, complain.
  • v. To make elaborate unnatural and distorted faces as a form of amusement or in a girning competition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To grin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To grin; snarl.
  • To entrap or ensnare by, or as if by, a girn.
  • n. A grin.
  • n. A yawn.
  • n. A trap or snare for catching animals, birds, etc.: also used figuratively.


Middle English girnen, variant of grinnen, grennan; see grin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Metathesized form of grin. (Wiktionary)


  • To wit: "And yet," says he, all chapfallen, "I fear me he will find occasion to clatter at my lady's ear, and mow and girn for his cracked pate to move her pity - and seest thou, father, it will look ill for me, a tenant oppressed crying Justice! and I can do nowt for him, wanting power at hand, and but the bailiff."

    Book 9: The Candlemass Road

  • And then they stretch out their faces, and make mouths, and girn at me, and whichever way

    The Heart of Mid-Lothian

  • Our board was full of words like larum and girn and ghat and revet.


  • Edinburgh, of course, was full of them, just as it was full of hills, biting winds, and people who liked to girn about things like hills and stairs and the wind ...

    Strip Jack

  • "That's some o 'Robbie Boath's wark," he says in laich till himsel ', wi' an awfu 'girn on his face.

    My Man Sandy

  • Contemporaries_: "Hunt has behaved like a hyena to Byron, whom he has dug up to girn and howl over him in the same breath."

    Sir Walter Scott as a Critic of Literature

  • There was a girn in it, as if she had learned to expect contradiction and disregard as the habitual response to all her remarks, and at the back of that a terror, far more dignified than the protest to which it gave birth, at the dreadful things she knew would happen because she was disregarded, and a small, weak, guilty sense that she had not made her protest loudly and, perhaps, cleverly enough.

    The Judge

  • "I won't girn any more if you'll court me," she promised.

    The Foolish Lovers

  • Then your faither -- his God do sit everlastingly alongside hell-mouth, an 'laugh an' girn to see all the world a walkin 'in, same as the beasts walked in the

    Lying Prophets

  • Dour an 'din he was, wi' ae girn like th 'auld hornie.

    Project Gutenberg Complete Works of Winston Churchill


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  • Her voice changed, and he perceived that she was making use of the strange power to carry on disputes with the dead which is possessed by widows. The tone was a complete reconstruction of her marriage. There was a girn in it, as if she had learned to expect contradiction and disregard as the habitual response to all her remarks...

    - Rebecca West, The Judge

    July 17, 2009

  • "Really, it was no concern of hers that Mr Cowper's relatives were girning yet again over the cost of his upkeep; it was one thing for a man to have a lackey — and Sam Roberts was an excellent servant — but it was piling Ossa on Pelion for them to learn that he also had a half-orphan boy attending on him."
    --The Winner of Sorrow by Brian Lynch, p 85

    July 12, 2009

  • Verb: To bear one's teeth in anger or sadness.

    January 26, 2009