On 14th March, 1859, while in the middle of writing On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote to his oldest son:

Mrs Grut is more "gruttish" than ever, & almost talks one deaf, & can be consumedly saucy.—

Two days later, Mrs Grut's employment as children's governess at the Darwin household was terminated as a result of her volatile and insolent behaviour.

I have to say, I am deeply disappointed that my personal hero, Charles Darwin, didn't get on with someone going by the rather wonderful name of Mrs Grut. But I am delighted that he coined the word gruttish: a very useful adjective, I'm sure you'll all agree.

But what do you think it means?

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I seem to recall that gruts were some kind of soldier/warrior. But don't quote me.

    I heard a rumour that there is an album of unreleased Ivor Cutler material about to be released. I will try & find out the title.

  2. A proposition for the definition of To Grut: Battling argument to the point of offensiveness then just at the peak tipping into charm thus grutting home your point to the admiring observer.

  3. In the case of C.D. it sounds to me like someone who can't judge the boundaries of social behaviour and thus oversteps their familiarity limits, while at the same time over estimating how much people are interested in what they have to say.

    This meaning will, of course, have to be radically overhauled in light of the gruts web site.

  4. Could the John Innes mentioned at f7 posibly be...the inventor of compost as we know it?

  5. Grutish; logical and persuasive butwith a hint of fanatisism, especially where cats are concerned.

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