The past tense of greet is greeted. This is known.

However my instinct suggests it should be something like great/gret (first spelling seeming more right though easy to confuse ).

I'm certain I can remember hearing people in the north of Britain saying gret.

Is there any validity at all to this word as a dialectical or previously acceptable form?

Or am I merely guilty of some phenomena where I misapply rules?

1 Answer 1


Bosworth-Toller indicates that the long vowel in Old English grétan was retained in the past tense and participle, with gemination (doubling) of the /t/.

The U.Michigan Middle English Dictionary cites (with modern diacritics to indicate conjectured pronunciations) the spellings grette, grætte, gratte & grẹ̄t, grē̆t, greite & (late & rare) grẹ̄ted, which suggest that from the 12th to the 15th century pronunciation varied between long and short, with the short appearing to be more common. The modern regularized form greeted seems to have arisen in the last part of the 15th century—that is, after the Great Vowel Shift had started.

I would not be surprised, then, to find pasts like gret or grat lingering in some dialects; but I find no direct evidence of that. The English Dialect Dictionary does give orthographic graet, grat, greeted, greht, gret, gruot; but these are all associated with the unrelated northern (Yorkshire to the Islands) verb greet in the sense “weep”.

  • Who'd a thunk? What fun! Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 15:00
  • I've certainly heard such uses as, for example 'the puir lass gret her eyes out', but i don't think i've heard anything like 'the minister gret people at the door'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 22:29
  • My family are mostly from the north of the UK and I've never heard greet meaning weep. Interesting. How did greeted come to be the standard past tense word? It just seems so...clunky. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 10:28
  • @greeted I imagine pretty much the same way as all the other choices: we held an election and greeted won. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:27

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