\ \ [16] The novels of Sir Walter Scott had an enormous influence in introducing Scotticisms into the general English language, and gruesome is a case in point. It was apparently coined in the 16th century from an earlier verb gruebe terrified’, which was probably of Scandinavian origin. For over 200 years it remained restricted in distribution to Scotland and northern England, but Scott started using it (‘He’s as grave and grewsome an auld Dutchman as e’er I saw’, Old Mortality 1816), immediately ensuring it an entrée into homes all over Britain thanks to Scott’s huge readership. It has never looked back.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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