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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"spoilsport;" all usages trace to Dr. Seuss' 1957 book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."


n. 1 A grouch or killjoy. 2 A person who aggressively sets out to ruin the Christmas holidays for others.


The Grinch is a fictional character created by Dr. Seuss. He first appeared as the main character of the 1957 Christmas story How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The grumpy, anti-holiday spirit of the character has led to the term "Grinch", which is probably derived from the French word grincheux which means "grumpy", coming to refer to a person opposed to Christmas time celebrations or to someone with a coarse, greedy attitude. In fact, a document in the live-action film stated that "The term Grinchy shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply".

The Grinch has since become an icon of the winter holidays, despite the character's hatred of the season, and has appeared on various forms of memorabilia such as Christmas ornaments, plush dolls, [, and various clothing items.

In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Grinch number 5 on its "50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time" list.

Usage examples of "grinch".

It was like the Whos down in Who-ville being happy to see the Grinch before he’d reformed his wicked ways.

They were onto the Grinch by then, the floor around them scattered with popcorn and broken crackers.

On screen the Grinch covered his ears against the sound of villagers caroling.

In a flash all the kids, even the older ones, deserted Jim Carrey and the Grinch and gathered around the man in red.

If the hideous arachnid in my mind's eye was the fault of just my dad and my diet, then my imagination would have conjured not a simple spider but an image of the grinning Grinch climbing toward me.

As I hung motionless on the ladder, the grinning Grinch rapidly became an inexpressibly more terrifying image than any spider could have been, until another hard crash boomed through the building, shaking me back to reality.

Daring the maw of spider or Grinch, I went down one more story, to the next opening in the shaft.