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Definition of Grunge

A musical subgenre derived from rock that blends elements of punk rock and heavy metal. Grunge also refers to the disheveled culture and style that is common among fans of this type of music.


  1. Punk
  2. Grime
  3. Disorder
  4. Scruffy


The word grunge is American slang for someone or something that disgusts and also for filth.

Grunge is a genre and subculture of alternative rock that emerged in the mid-1980s in the U.S. state of Washington, in the far Pacific Northwest, mostly in Seattle and nearby cities. Grunge fused elements of punk rock and heavy metal, but without the structure and speed of punk. The genre featured the distorted electric guitar sound used in both genres, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other.

Like these genres, grunge usually used electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Lyrics are usually angsty and introspective. They often address themes such as social alienation, self-doubt, abuse, abandonment, betrayal, addiction, psychological trauma, and the desire for freedom.


  1. Nirvana, the band led by Kurt Cobain, was one of the biggest influencers of grunge in the 1990s.
  2. Grunge lyrics are often dark, nihilistic, wretched, anxious and full of angst.
  3. The clothing that grunge musicians tended to wear at the time was a “mundane everyday style,” in which they wore on stage the same clothes they wore at home.
  4. Grunge is generally characterized by a heavy electric guitar sound.