Etymology
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gruelling (adj.)

also grueling, "exhausting, punishing," 1852, present-participle adjective from gruel (v.) "to punish," from late 18c. slang get (or have) one's gruel "receive one's punishment," from gruel (n.).

updated on April 24, 2015

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Definitions of gruelling from WordNet

gruelling (adj.)
characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion; especially physical effort;
Synonyms: arduous / backbreaking / grueling / hard / heavy / laborious / operose / punishing / toilsome
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.