Deconstructing Words: Grateful

Today’s lesson is the word grateful.  It has two parts: grate and full.  One definition is obvious.

Grateful: Warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefit received, thankful

If we take the two parts, however, and spit them as “Full of grate”, we get a different meaning and, perhaps, origin: to completely annoy.  For example, “Man that guy is so grateful, he just won’t stop fawning over me and apologizing…I wish he would.”


As an adjective: Completely filled.
As an adverb: Very, exactly or directly, completely

From the Latin, plenus, meaning full or plump, satisfied.

Grate has many definitions.

As a noun:

  1. A frame of metal bars for holding fuel, as in a fireplace
  2. A framework of parallel or crossed bars used as a partition or guard
  3. A harsh, rasping sound

As a verb:

  1. To furnish with grates or grating
  2. To have an irritating or unpleasant effect
  3. To make a sound of rough scraping; rasp
  4. To sound harshly; jar
  5. To reduce to small particles by rubbing against a rough surface
  6. To rub together with a harsh or jarring sound
  7. To irritate or annoy
  8. To wear down or rub away by friction

From the Latin, cratis, meaning hurdle [according to].

So, really, one must be careful when using the word.  You’d rather not come off as someone who is full of harsh, rasping sounds…even if we sometimes consider apologies to be grating annoying both to the one making them and the one receiving them.

Of course, however, everyone knows “grateful” comes from the Latin, gratus, meaning pleasant or thankful and adding full (why not plenus? [gratus plenus combined into gratepleny? doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?]).

Just be certain you gratitude is sincere (and politely brief) and you’ll, hopefully, avoid looking–and feeling–like a worn out irritant.


About bkreuch

I like to read, I like to write, and I like to make people laugh.
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