Yeah, we know, our name has a weird word in it and not everyone knows what it means. However, we needed the right word to express ourselves and “grok” is it! If you want to know where it is from and what it means, read on.
“Grok” was coined by Robert Heinlein for his 1961 book, Stranger in a Strange Land. While there is no official definition of the word, it exists in dictionaries under Heinlein’s definition. Below is a passage from the book that explores the definition in a conversation between characters.
We strive to grok coffee and facilitate the grokking of coffee by people like you.
Excerpt from Stranger in a Strange Land, Ace Edition, April 1987, Pages 213-214
“Take this word: ‘grok.’ Its literal meaning, one which I suspect goes back to the origin of the Martian race as thinking creatures—and which throws light on their whole ‘map’—is easy. ‘Grok’ means ‘to drink.’”
“Huh?” said Jubal. “Mike never says ‘grok’ when he’s just talking about drinking. He—”
“Just a moment.” Mahmoud spoke to Mike in Martian.
Mike looked faintly surprised. “‘Grok’ is drink.”
“But Mike would have agreed,” Mahmoud went on, “if I had named a hundred other English words, words which we think of as different concepts, even antithetical concepts. ‘Grok’ means all of these. It means ‘fear,’ it means ‘love,’ it means ‘hate’—proper hate, for by the Martian ‘map’ you cannot hate anything unless you grok it, understand it so thoroughly that you merge with it and it merges with you—then you can hate. By hating yourself. But this implies that you love it, too, and cherish it and would not have it otherwise. Then you can hate—and (I think) Martian hate is an emotion so black that the nearest human equivalent could only be called mild distaste.”
“‘Grok’ means ‘identically equal.’ The human cliché ‘This hurts me worse than it does you’ has a distinctly Martian flavor. The Martian seems to know instinctively what we learned painfully from modern physics, that observer interacts with observed through the process of observation. ‘Grok’ means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us as color does to a blind man.” Mahmoud paused. “Jubal, if I chopped you up and made a stew, you and the stew, whatever was in it, would grok—and when I ate you, we would grok together and nothing would be lost and it would not matter which one of us did the eating.”