Word: GritIf at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

Word: GritIf at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

Etymology: From the Old English word grēot meaning dust, earth or gravel.

Meaning: To have grit means to have courage and resolve, strength of character, pluck, mettle. It’s a word that feels onomatopoeic: It embodies itself, roundly and confidently; say it out loud and you will feel grittier.

But drill down and grit means slightly different things depending on whom you’re talking to. To Angela Duckworth, a psychologist and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, whose work has brought grit into focus in the past few years, it means a passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Grit, she writes, “is about having what some researchers call an ‘ultimate concern’—a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do.” And it i...

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