from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
  • noun A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
  • noun A sense of fitness or propriety.
  • noun A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
  • noun Mercy; clemency.
  • noun A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
  • noun A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
  • noun Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.
  • noun Divine favor bestowed freely on people, as in granting redemption from sin.
  • noun The state of having received such favor.
  • noun An excellence or power granted by God.
  • noun A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal.
  • noun Used with His, Her, or Your as a title and form of address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop.
  • noun Music An appoggiatura, trill, or other musical ornament in the music of 16th and 17th century England.
  • transitive verb To honor or favor.
  • transitive verb To give beauty, elegance, or charm to.
  • transitive verb Music To embellish with grace notes.
  • idiom (in the bad graces of) Out of favor with.
  • idiom (in the good graces of) In favor with.
  • idiom (with bad grace) In a grudging manner.
  • idiom (with good grace) In a willing manner.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To adorn; decorate; embellish and dignify; lend or add grace to.
  • To confer grace or favor upon; afford pleasure or gratification to.
  • To dignify or gratify by an act of favor; favor or honor (with something).
  • To supply with heavenly grace.
  • In music, to add grace-notes, cadenzas, etc., to: as, to grace a melody.
  • noun A bow or courtesy.
  • noun That element or quality of form, manner, movement, carriage, deportment, language, etc., which renders it pleasing or agreeable; elegance or beauty of form, outline, manner, motion, or act; pleasing harmony or appropriateness; that quality in a thing or an act which charms or delights: as, to move with easy grace.
  • noun plural [capitalized] In classical mythology, the goddesses of the beauty, brightness, and joy in nature and humanity. The Graces are the Charites of the Greeks, variously described as daughters of Helios (the Sun) and Aigle (heavenly brightness), or of Zeus (Jupiter) and Eurynome (daughter of Ocean —the Aurora). They were also variously named, but their most familiar names are Aglaϊa(the brilliant), Euphrosyne(cheerfulness), and Thalia (the bloom of life). They had in their gift grace, loveliness, and favor, and were attendants in the train of Aphrodite.
  • noun Amenity of disposition or manner; sweetness or amiability; graciousness; politeness; courtesy; civility: as, to yield with good grace.
  • noun plural A kind of play or game designed to exhibit or develop easy gracefulness in motion. One player, by means of two sticks held one in each hand. throws a small hoop to another, who endeavors to catch it on two similar sticks, and then to throw it back in the same way.
  • noun A pleasing and attractive quality or endowment; beauty; adornment; embellishment.
  • noun In music, an embellishment, whether vocal or instrumental, not essential to the harmony or melody of a piece, such as an appoggiatura, a trill, a turn, etc. Such embellishments were much more common in music for the harpsichord and the viol than they are for modern instruments; their exact form and even the place of their introduction were often left in the eighteenth century to the taste of the performer.
  • noun Favor; good will; friendship; favorable disposition to another; favorable regard: as, to be in one′ s good graces; to reign by the grace of God.
  • noun An act of kindness or favor accorded to or bestowed on another; a good turn or service freely rendered.
  • noun A faculty, license, or dispensation bestowed by legal authority, the granting of which rests in discretion or favor, and is not to be asked as of right; a privilege; also, in English law, a general and free pardon by act of Parliament. Also called act of grace.
  • noun In Scrip, and theology: The free, unmerited love and favor of God: as, the doctrine of grace (that is, the doctrine that all things, including salvation, are received from God as a free gift, and not merited or earned by man).
  • noun The enjoyment of the favor of God.
  • noun Benefit, especially inward spiritual gifts, conferred by God through Christ Jesus; specifically, power or disposition to yield obedience to the divine laws, to practise the Christian virtues, and to bear trouble or affliction with patience and resignation: as, grace to perform a duty, or to bear up under an affliction.
  • noun Virtue; power; efficacy.
  • noun Share of favor allotted to one; lot; fortune; luck.
  • noun Mercy; pardon.
  • noun Indulgence; forbearance; allowance of time: as, three days′ grace for the payment of a note.
  • noun In English universities, an act, vote, or decree of the government of the institution: as, a grace was approved by the Senate at Cambridge for founding a Chinese professorship.
  • noun Thanks; thanksgiving.
  • noun A formula of words expressing thanks and craving a blessing on or with a meal or refreshment; a short prayer before or after meals, in which a blessing is asked or thanks are rendered: as, to say grace; grace before meat.
  • noun A title of honor formerly borne by the sovereigns of England, but now used only as a ceremonious title in speaking to or of a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop: as, his Grace the Duke of Wellington.
  • noun The period.beyond the fixed day for payment allowed by law or custom for paying a note or bill of exchange. In Great Britain and the united States, at common law, three days are allowed; but if the last day of grace falls on Sunday, or any day on which business is not legally carried on, the bill or note is payable on the day preceding. Modern statutes have made some changes in these rules, particularly as regards legal holidays immediately preceding or following Sunday. Bankers′ checks are payable on demand without days of grace, and the same rule applies to bills or notes payable on demand.


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin grātia, from grātus, pleasing; see gwerə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English grace, from Old French grace (Modern French grâce), from Latin grātia "kindness, favour, esteem", from grātus ‘pleasing’ from Proto-Indo-European *gwer- (“to praise, welcome”). Compare grateful. Displaced native Middle English held, hield "grace" (from Old English held, hyld "grace"), Middle English este "grace, favour, pleasure" (from Old English ēste "grace, kindness, favour"), Middle English athmede(n) "grace" (from Old English ēadmēdu "grace"), Middle English are, ore "grace, mercy, honour" (from Old English ār "grace, kindness, mercy").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word grace.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • ...also a song by U2...

    February 9, 2008

  • to give freely

    July 22, 2009

  • Thank you this is very good.

    November 25, 2009

  • Creation is composed of the descending movement of gravity, the ascending movement of grace and the descending movement of the second degree of grace Simone Weil

    March 23, 2010

  • Excellent visuals! Thanks, fbharjo!

    August 6, 2011