Word of the Day


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a feeling of being grateful to someone because they have given you something or have done something for you

Origin and usage

The noun gratitude comes ultimately from the Latin adjective ‘gratus’ meaning ‘pleasing’ or ‘thankful’. It came into English in the 16th century, either from the Old French word ‘gratitude’, or from the medieval Latin ‘gratitudo’.


Gratitude is a feeling that is typically expressed and shown: simply feeling it is generally not enough. The concept of gratitude is rooted in reciprocity: if someone has given you something, or more particularly done something for you, you can be said to owe them a debt of gratitude. This debt will be repaid when you do something for them in return.

The opposite of gratitude is ingratitude. In Shakespeare’s As you like it, Lord Amiens sings that man’s ingratitude is more unkind than the winter wind and sharper than the sting of the freezing cold.


“Thou better knowest, The offices of nature, bond of child-hood, Effects of curtesie, dues of gratitude.”
(William Shakespeare, King Lear)

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
(A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh)

Similar words

obligation, appreciation

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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