plural of grit "coarsely ground grain," Old English grytt (plural grytta) "coarse meal, groats, grits," from Proto-Germanic *grutja-, from the same root as grit (n.), the two words having influenced one another in sound development.
In American English, corn-based grits and hominy (q.v.) were used interchangeably in Colonial times. Later, hominy meant whole kernels that had been skinned but not ground, but in the U.S. South, hominy meant skinned kernels that could be ground coarsely to make grits. In New Orleans, whole kernels are big hominy and ground kernels little hominy.