Is GRUNTLED a word?

DISGRUNTLED is an adjective, meaning angry or dissatisfied. In many cases, the “dis-” prefix adds a negative element to a word, leading many people to ask if there is an opposite word, GRUNTLED. However, “dis-” has another function as well. Instead of being negative, the “dis-” prefix in “disgruntled” is an intensifier. It means “utterly” or “completely” and adds emphasis to the root.

Back in the 1600s “gruntling” meant “grumbling.” So if someone was “gruntling,” they’d be even MORE upset if they were “disgruntling” –and it does look like “disgruntle” was a verb before it became an adjective and we started to use it to describe people’s emotions.

So is GRUNTLED a word? Interestingly, it has actually become one according to some dictionaries; they suggest that “gruntled” is a back-formation that people derived from “disgruntled.” In other words, so many people thought “disgruntled” should have the corresponding positive word, “gruntled,” that it emerged and was accepted. Granted, the word isn’t common, but the first known use of “gruntled” as an adjective to mean “in good humor” or “pleased” (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) is attributed to P.G. Wodehouse, who included this sentence in his 1938 novel, “The Code of the Woosters”:

“He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”

As an aside, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary puts the first use of GRUNTLED in 1926, but it doesn’t show the source. At any rate, GRUNTLED may one day indeed become commonplace.

I can’t think of when I have actually used the word GRUNTLED. Have you?

Categories: DGG