The Clear Grits were one of a long series of farmer-based radical reform movements. Later examples were the United Farmers and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the direct ancestor of the modern New Democratic Party. The word "Grit" is used as a neutral reference to members of the Liberal Party in English Canada. It is currently used far more frequently in print than spoken. "Grit" also has a conveniently small number of letters, for use in headlines.
"Clear Grit" was a complimentary term meaning tenacious or dedicated. The name derives from a quote by party member David Christie who describes the movement as "all sand and no dirt; clear grit all the way through", a reference to the type of sand preferred in the preparation of masonry.