Definition: Grace

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English grace, from Old French grace (modern French grâce), from Latin grātia (kindness, favor, esteem), from grātus (pleasing), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷerH- (to praise, welcome).

The word displaced the native Middle English held, hield (grace) (from Old English held, hyld (grace)), Middle English este (grace, favor, pleasure) (from Old English ēste (grace, kindness, favor)), Middle English athmede(n) (grace) (from Old English ēadmēdu (grace)), Middle English are, ore (grace, mercy, honor) (from Old English ār (honor, grace, kindness, mercy)).


grace (countable and uncountable, plural graces)

  1. (countable, uncountable) Charming, pleasing qualities.
    The princess brought grace to an otherwise dull and boring party.
  2. (countable) A short prayer of thanks before or after a meal.
    It has become less common to say grace before having dinner.
  3. (countable, card games) In the games of patience or solitaire: a special move that is normally against the rules.
  4. (countable, music) A grace note; a short note that isn't technically part of a melody that is used to ornament the melody.
  5. (uncountable) Elegant movement; balance or poise.
    The dancer moved with grace and strength.
  6. (uncountable, finance) An allowance of time granted to a debtor during which he or she is free of at least part of his normal obligations towards the creditor.
    The repayment of the loan starts after a three-year grace.
  7. (uncountable, theology) Free and undeserved favor, especially of God; unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification, or for resisting sin.
  8. An act or decree of the governing body of an English university.

Derived terms

  • begrace
  • free grace
  • graceful
  • graceless
  • grace note
  • grace period
  • grace stroke
  • saving grace
  • social grace

Related terms

  • gracious
  • grateful
  • gratitude


grace (third-person singular simple present graces, present participle gracing, simple past and past participle graced)

  1. (transitive) To adorn; to decorate; to embellish and dignify.
    He graced the room with his presence.
    His portrait graced a landing on the stairway.
  2. (transitive) To dignify or raise by an act of favor; to honor.
  3. (transitive) To supply with heavenly grace.
  4. (transitive, music) To add grace notes, cadenzas, etc., to.


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