Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The roots of the word “grunge”

There’s still plenty of debate and study about the origins of the word “grunge.” It’s likely it descended from British slang, which created the word out of older words like “dingy, goo, and gunge,” which is an unknown sticky substance. But the original word was “grungey,” an adjective that was applied to something dirty and grubby.

The first time it appeared in print was in the New York Times in 1965 when it was used to describe a dull date. When it comes to music, grunge was used in New Yorker magazine as part of a review of the New York Dolls.

It was applied to the rock music of Seattle in 1987 when Bruce Pavitt, the co-founder of Sub Pop Records, described the sound of a Green River EP, which was recorded cheapy, loosely, and with a dirty guitar sound. From there, “grunge” just kinda stuck.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38291 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.