Grit (going back to Old English grytt or grytta or gryttes) is an almost extinct word for bran, chaff, or mill-dust. It is also used for oats that have been husked but not ground, or that have been only coarsely ground—coarse oatmeal.
The word continues to exist in modern dishes like grits, an American corn (maize)-based food common in the Southern United States, consisting of coarsely ground corn; and the German red grits, Rote Grütze, a traditional pudding made of summer berries and starch and sugar. Grit here was the cheap supplier of starch. Gruels of grit, oatmeal grit preferably, were standard European nutrition of the lower classes in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period.
- The OED gives the following earliest references: Epinal Gloss. 823 Pullis, grytt. c1000 ÆLFRIC Gloss. in Wr.-Wülcker 141/20 Apludes uel cantabra, hwæte gryttan. c1000 Sax. Leechd. II. 220 oððe grytta. a1100 Ags. Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 330/33 Furfures, gretta. 11.. Voc. ibid. 505/13 Polline, gryttes. a1225 Ancr. R. 186 þis is Godes heste, þet him is muchele leouere þen þet tu ete gruttene bread, oð er werie herde here.