Grave Condition – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you returning from a trip to the hospital where your grandma is on the brink of death? If so, you could tell the rest of the family that she is in a “grave condition.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


If someone is in a “grave condition,” it means that they are close to death, and there is a good chance they could pass away at any moment. Typically, the phrase refers to someone in intensive care or hospitalized for an injury or a disease.

If you tell someone that your mom is in a grave condition, you are unsure if she will live through what she is experiencing. A “grave condition” is an emergent medical or psychiatric condition requiring immediate treatment to stabilize the person.

Without treatment, there is a big risk the person could die. The person could be ill with an infection or metabolic or endocrine disorder. However, the affected person may recover with the right medical treatment and some luck.

Example Usage

“I just got back from the hospital. She’s in a grave condition. The doctor says they might have to start her on the life support machine tomorrow to give oxygen to her brain.”

“The business is in a grave condition right now. We missed quarterly projections, cash flow is down, and we’re going to have to start cutting jobs.”

“The economy is in a grave condition this year. Inflation is skyrocketing, gas prices are through the roof, and the Federal Reserve is behind the curve on its monetary policy.”

“The car is in a grave condition right now. I keep hearing that sound in the engine, and it overheats all the time. I waiting for the day it just decides to give up.”

“The country is in a grave condition. It relies heavily on grain imports from Ukraine, and the war is stopping deliveries to feed the nation.”

“I’m afraid he’s in a grave condition. There’s not much more we can do from here out. The best we can offer is to make his passing comfortable and dignified.”


Language experts have no idea when the expression “grave condition” entered English. However, many assume that it has a medical or health reference as its first use. If you die, you “go to the grave,” so it must have some connection to human mortality and sending a person to the afterlife.

Language experts are unsure if “grave condition” superseded other similar terms like “serious condition” or critical condition.” However, all three terms carry the same meaning, with “grave condition” having the highest tone of severity and urgency in the situation, and the person closest to the brink of death.

Phrases Similar to Grave Condition

  • Serious condition.
  • Critical condition.

Phrases Opposite to Grave Condition

  • Good health.
  • No physical issues.
  • Tip-top condition.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Grave condition.

Ways People May Say Grave Condition Incorrectly

The saying has nothing to do with a grave or the condition of a grave. It’s a way of saying there is impending doom, and someone or something is in a very bad physical state. Using it to describe anything to do with the burial process is incorrect.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Grave Condition

You can use the phrase “grave condition” when describing a person’s health, the financial standing of a business or property, and many other scenarios when referring to something on the way out. The phrase suits social and professional use.

Use it at the office to let the employees know that the company is in a grave condition financially, and you might have to close the doors. Use it with your family to describe the failing health of your grandma in the hospital. Use it to describe the situation in a basketball game where a team is down on the half, and they need to win to avoid relegation to another league.

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