In music notation, Grave is used to specify an extremely slow tempo, about 40 bpm or slower. The word means "serious" in Italian.

A grave accent (pronounced grahv, not like the hole where you put someone) is the small backslash effect that is so familiar in western European languages. The HTML symbols are à etc.

Except that it's not that common. In French it's used on e, as in mère, and when so used it indicates a mid-open (= mid-low) vowel, SAMPA symbol [E]. (In contemporary French the spoken distinction between è and é is often absent.) It's also used on a in three words I can think of, à, là, déjà. If there are any others they don't materially affect its scarcity.

In English, apart from straight borrowings from French, it's preserved in a couple of names, such as St Thomas à Beckett and in Thomas à Kempis (author of the Imitation of Christ), where it's not the French preposition, but the English at = 'of, from, de, von' (seen as atte in the odd place name).

In Italian it indicates stress at the end of a word, and is used on all five vowels: sarà 'will be', perchè 'because', così 'thus', Salò Republic, and virtù. I believe there is a recent move, led by the printing house Giulio Einaudi, to use the acute over close and mid-close vowels, as virtú, but I haven't seen much modern Italian text, so can't confirm this.

In Catalan it indicates stress. In Portuguese it also does in odd circumstances: as in the adverb fàcilmente from fácil 'easy'. It also makes the word à, which is a contraction of a a 'to the (fem.)'.

In Scottish Gaelic it indicates a long vowel. In the 1970s a spelling reform scrapped the acute accent; before that they were used distinctly, the grave for mid-low vowels (SAMPA [E] [O]) and the acute for mid-high.

That's about it as far as western European languages. It's never used on consonants. It never forms a distinct letter of the alphabet.

It's not much used in modern Greek, which these days just uses the acute for stress. The origin of the grave accent is in Ancient Greek: it was invented, like the other accents, by the grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium, who was concerned at the way the language was changing, and wanted to mark for learners how it should traditionally be pronounced.

Greek was shifting from a pitch accent to a stress accent. As a tone language, Greek had two pitches, high and low, and a long vowel could also have a tone falling from high to low. Aristophanes (not the playwright) used the acute to mark high, the grave to mark low, and the circumflex, the combination of the two, for the fall.

As a rule only one syllable could have a high tone, and all the others were low, but they weren't all marked with a grave: only the one that might be high, or looked as if it might, under some circumstances.

In twentieth-century linguistics the grave accent was used as a symbol of falling tone, which it visually reminds us of, and was officially so used in the IPA, in the pinyin system for Chinese, and also in the official orthography of a number of African languages. However, fairly recently the IPA scrapped its whole system of pitch marking and adopted a new one, in which the grave accent was once more given its original meaning of plain low tone.

Indicates this ASCII character: `
Character number 96, representable in HTML as `
Contrasts with apostrophe (or single quote), and double quote

In written text, this charcter, also known as a backquote, backprime, backgrave, or sometimes just grave, is often used incorrectly where an apostrophe is meant. Also, it is used either singly or doubly to open quotations that are subsequently closed by single or double apostrophe, respectively. This use creates the illusion of smart quotes, as opposed to the regular quote character which faces in only one direction.

"Without simulated smart quotes."
``With simulated smart quotes.''

Although the simulated smart quotes may improve readability in natural language texts, they create an ugly dimorphism in the use of this character and many consider it to be an abuse of the character set.

Some international keyboard drivers are configurable to allow two-stroke graved characters. When the backquote key is pressed, if the second key pressed is a letter that is able to carry a grave accent, the complete accented character is input.


In programming languages, the uses of the backquote are few and unrelated to its use in natural language texts.

In Unix shell languages, including sh, csh, and their derivatives, as well as Perl, text appearing between backquotes is executed as a command, and the evaluation of the full backquoted expression is the standard output of that command. Additionally, Perl uses a backgrave to indicate an identifier's membership in a package.

In LISP and its kin, lists may be quoted with the backquote, resulting in literal evaluation similar to quotation with a single quote, excepting that elements in the list may be evaluated normally when prefixed by a comma.

Grave (?), v. t.

(Naut.) To clean, as a vessel's bottom, of barnacles, grass, etc., and pay it over with pitch; -- so called because graves or greaves was formerly used for this purpose.

 

© Webster 1913.


Grave, a. [Compar. Graver (gr&amac;v"&etil;r); superl. Gravest.] [F., fr. L. gravis heavy; cf. It. & Sp. grave heavy, grave. See Grief.]

1.

Of great weight; heavy; ponderous.

[Obs.]

His shield grave and great. Chapman.

2.

Of importance; momentous; weighty; influential; sedate; serious; -- said of character, relations, etc.; as, grave deportment, character, influence, etc.

Most potent, grave, and reverend seigniors. Shak.

A grave and prudent law, full of moral equity. Milton.

3.

Not light or gay; solemn; sober; plain; as, a grave color; a grave face.

4.

(Mus.) (a) Not acute or sharp; low; deep; -- said of sound; as, a grave note or key.

The thicker the cord or string, the more grave is the note or tone. Moore (Encyc. of Music).

(b)

Slow and solemn in movement.

Grave accent. (Pron.) See the Note under Accent, n., 2.

Syn. -- Solemn; sober; serious; sage; staid; demure; thoughtful; sedate; weighty; momentous; important. -- Grave, Sober, Serious, Solemn. Sober supposes the absence of all exhilaration of spirits, and is opposed to gay or flighty; as, sober thought. Serious implies considerateness or reflection, and is opposed to jocose or sportive; as, serious and important concerns. Grave denotes a state of mind, appearance, etc., which results from the pressure of weighty interests, and is opposed to hilarity of feeling or vivacity of manner; as, a qrave remark; qrave attire. Solemn is applied to a case in which gravity is carried to its highest point; as, a solemn admonition; a solemn promise.

 

© Webster 1913.


Grave, v. t. [imp. Graved (gr&amac;vd); p. p. Graven (gr&amac;v"'n) or Graved; p. pr. & vb. n. Graving.] [AS. grafan to dig, grave, engrave; akin to OFries. greva, D. graven, G. graben, OHG. & Goth. graban, Dan. grabe, Sw. gr&aum;fva, Icel. grafa, but prob. not to Gr. gra`fein to write, E. graphic. Cf. Grave, n., Grove, n.]

1.

To dig. [Obs.] Chaucer.

He hath graven and digged up a pit. Ps. vii. 16 (Book of Common Prayer).

2.

To carve or cut, as letters or figures, on some hard substance; to engrave.

Thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel. Ex. xxviii. 9.

3.

To carve out or give shape to, by cutting with a chisel; to sculpture; as, to grave an image.

With gold men may the hearte grave. Chaucer.

4.

To impress deeply (on the mind); to fix indelibly.

O! may they graven in thy heart remain. Prior.

5.

To entomb; to bury.

[Obs.]

Chaucer.

Lie full low, graved in the hollow ground. Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.


Grave, v. i.

To write or delineate on hard substances, by means of incised lines; to practice engraving.

 

© Webster 1913.


Grave, n. [AS. gr?f, fr. grafan to dig; akin to D. & OS. graf, G. grab, Icel. grof, Russ. grob' grave, coffin. See Grave to carve.]

An excavation in the earth as a place of burial; also, any place of interment; a tomb; a sepulcher. Hence: Death; destruction.

He bad lain in the grave four days. John xi. 17.

Grave wax, adipocere.

 

© Webster 1913.

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