Green’s Dictionary of Slang

grit n.1

(US) solidity or strength of character, spirit, pluck, stamina; thus be the grit v., to be the ‘right sort’ of person, to be the ‘genuine article’.

D. Hitchcock Poet. Dict. 53: The prude doats on beauty, the bully on grit [DA].
[US]A.B. Lindsley Yankee Notions 10: ’E’s proper stuff; clear grit, I swow!
[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan II 14: A chap who was clear grit for a tussle, any time.
[US]G.F. Ruxton Life in the Far West (1849) 8: Thar was old grit in him.
[US]Nevada Journal 12 Dec. 1: Green was a large, powerful man, but had no grit, and Shortez offered to fight him for the money but Green backed water.
[UK]Thackeray Adventures of Philip (1899) 494: If you were a chip off the old block you would be just what he called ‘the grit’.
[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 117: If there’s one thing I do have more ’n another in my nater it’s common sense grit.
[UK]W.A. Baillie-Grohman Camps in the Rockies 17: It takes moments of danger to discover a man’s true grit – the ‘bottom sand,’ as a plainsman would say.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Feb. 10/2: Who’s afraid! Put me in a sentry-box with an arm-chair and a gas-stove, outside a public house, and I’ll keep guard till further orders. I’m good colonial grit, I am.
[UK]H. Smart Long Odds III 52: ‘They're grit, they are, these swells, and no mistake,' murmured John Bramton [...] ‘a hundred thousand pounds out of his pocket, and yet he don't make so much fuss about it as I’ve seen a fellow make over a losing deal at penny Van John’.
[UK]C. Roberts Adrift in America 209: I had not the grit even to try and board a freight train.
[US]S.E. White Blazed Trail 161: Nothing was to be depended on but sheer dogged grit.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 168: ‘Good nerve.’ [...] ‘Pure grit.’.
[UK]T.W.H. Crosland ‘Wounded’ Coll. Poems 152: Women’s funny – / So they are! / But who taught ’em / About war? / Where’d they learn / Their bit of drill? / Who is it took ’em / Through the mill? / And gave ’em grit / Enough for ten.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 184: All that there was of him was grit really. He was so crack-hardy and chirpy always.
[UK]N. Gale ‘A Veteran’ Close of Play 6: I sit / Glad-hearted on a bench and note / How Sussex vim and grit / Make red-rose Lancaster decline to hit.
[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 85: For sheer sand in the belly, grit, spine, nerve, and guts, some o’ these soft-looking civvies take some beating.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 318: Do not be discouraged, however, show grit, courage, determination.
[UK]C. Stead Cotters’ England (1980) 128: I thought you had the grit to face your fate.
[US]N. Algren ‘The Last Carousel’ Texas Stories (1995) 124: You had to work for nothing or you’d never get rich. Grit counted more than money.
[UK](con. 1950s) D. Nobbs Second From Last in the Sack Race 256: Her face was sturdy. It had character. It had grit.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 55: We got the grit and savvy to put all this behind us.
G. Jobson Championship Sailing 233: From the importance of making sailboat racing fun to what sailors with true grit can teach us.

In phrases

grit (it) out (v.) (also grit hard)

(US) to endure hardship.

[US]W. Wharton Midnight Clear 6: I determined to grit it hard for another burst or two hundred yards.
[US]R. Atkinson Long Gray Line 154: Most simply gritted out whatever ailed them.
[US]R.A. Dickey Wherever I Wind Up 17: Maybe my parents are too busy or too tired from work, or maybe they just don’t belong together and they both know it. They grit it out for as long as they can.
[US]G.M. Graff Watergate 649: ‘Let them impeach me [...] We’ll fight it out to the end.’ Nixon would grit it out .
real grit (n.) [? strengthened by nitty-gritty n.]

1. (also pure grit) the genuine item, the ‘real thing’.

[UK]London Eve. Standard 12 Nov. 4/4: Yankee Courtship [...] By the hokey if Sally Jones isn’t real grit, there’s no snakes.
[US]C.A. Davis Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 50: ‘None of your rags,’ says I, ‘but the real grit [i.e. gold].’.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 43: They seed that he was the rale grit.
[Aus]Cornwall Chron. (Launceston, Tas.) 11 Mar. 1/4: By the hookey, if Sally Jones isnt the real grit, the there’s no stakes.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 201: I poured him out a gill of the pure grit.
[US]Yorkville Enquirer (SC) 3 July 2/3: He shouted, ‘It’s the real grit;’ and a long drawn swill at once demonstrated his faith in its potency.
Sporting Life (London) 17 Oct. 3/4: This round was a ‘real grit’.

2. (US, also good grit, true grit) an admirable person.

Amer. Humour i: I reckon the chaplain was the real grit for a parson – always doin’ as he’d be done by, and practisin’ a darn’d sight more than he preached [F&H].
[US]J. Hall Legends of the West 38: These Mingoes act mighty redick’lous [...] They aint the raal true grit, no how.
[US]A.M. Maxwell Run Through the United States II 118: From being paupers in Europe, or rather mere ‘pisantry,’ that here they are the ‘real grit’ of the land.
[US]W.E. Burton Waggeries and Vagaries 15: I recking that he was the raal grit for a parson.
[UK]C. Mackay Life and Liberty in America 104: Among the pure Americanisms may be cited the following: [...] Grit, the real grit, the true grit. These words or phrases are used to signify a person of superior worth, solidity, and genuineness [...] The miller is evidently the parent of this expression.
[UK]Siliad 181: For Devils, out and out, thou art not fit, / For Devil-dodgers, just the real grit.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Oct. 6/3: In a certain town up North there recently lived a party by the name of Brown, and he woke up one morning to find himself stone-broke and on the threshold of ruin. Being ‘real grit,’ however, he determined to stake his all on a double, which would either put him straight again, or at least provide for his wife and children.
[US] in Overland Monthly (CA) July 65: I hev allus knowed ye ter be the true grit.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 6 Feb. 2/7: The feller was good grit as I ever see, an’ ’stead o’ givin’ up as as a man genally does when he's dropped his knife [he] picked up his knife with his left hand, an’ jumped at Wilson as quick as a cat.

3. (US black) the absolute truth, the essential facts.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].