The word, ‘grunge,’ actually means ‘dirt.’ The distorted and dirty guitars and vocals — as well as the sloppy appearance of the band members — in this style of alternative rock could be one reason for the use of this word. The actual first person known to coin the term ‘grunge’ was a writer, Paul Ramball. He wrote for the NME (New Musical Express — a British music magazine), and he used the term in his 1978 article to describe popular guitar rock music. But many people attribute the term ‘grunge’ to Mark Arm, the lead singer for the Seattle band Green River.
Think loud, and sometimes sloppy, distorted guitars, heavy drums, and (sometimes) screaming vocals. The lyrics are often dark and sad, and can be about discontent with life, relationship problems, depression, suicide, etc. Some of the first bands in the grunge music genre in the late 80s and early 90s were Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots.