gris·​ly | \ ˈgriz-lē How to pronounce grisly (audio) \
grislier; grisliest

Definition of grisly

1 : inspiring horror or intense fear houses that were dark and grisly under the blank, cold sky— D. H. Lawrence
2 : inspiring disgust or distaste a grisly account of the fire

Other Words from grisly

grisliness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for grisly

ghastly, grisly, gruesome, macabre, lurid mean horrifying and repellent in appearance or aspect. ghastly suggests the terrifying aspects of corpses and ghosts. a ghastly accident grisly and gruesome suggest additionally the results of extreme violence or cruelty. an unusually grisly murder suffered a gruesome death macabre implies a morbid preoccupation with the physical aspects of death. a macabre tale of premature burial lurid adds to gruesome the suggestion of shuddering fascination with violent death and especially with murder. the lurid details of a crime

Did you know?

An angry grizzly bear could certainly inspire fear, so grizzly and grisly must be related, right? Grizzly comes from the Middle English adjective grisel, meaning "gray." Like its close relative grizzled, grizzly means "sprinkled or streaked with gray." In other words, the grizzly bear got its name because the hairs of its brownish to buff coat usually have silver or pale tips, creating a grizzled effect, not because it causes terror. Grisly is related to Old English grislic, which comes from a verb meaning "to fear" and which gives grisly its "terrifying" sense.

Examples of grisly in a Sentence

The jurors saw grisly photos of the crime scene. recounted the visit to the murder scene in grisly detail
Recent Examples on the Web The 12 half-hour episodes shrink away from ever tapping into Rooney’s grisly side, turning a biting novel into a standard melodrama that’s handsomely shot and finely acted but frustratingly sterile. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 19 May 2022 Ken Stephens, 68, a member of a local anti-violence group, described a grisly scene. New York Times, 14 May 2022 Gomez plays Mabel Mora, a girl who lives in the Upper West Side apartment where a grisly murder occurs. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 8 May 2022 So, the conspiracy theory that compass malfunctions are behind the Triangle’s grisly history is easily debunked. Ashley Stimpson, Popular Mechanics, 18 Apr. 2022 One artifact — a shard of his coffin — was seemingly plucked from Poe’s grisly imagination. Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2022 Consider Théodore Géricault’s grisly painting, The Raft of the Medusa. Anne Quito, Quartz, 10 Feb. 2022 The court ruled in the case of Lynn Benton, 59, who worked as the tiny police department’s spokesperson before he was arrested and charged in the grisly killing of his wife. oregonlive, 9 Feb. 2022 Police made the grisly discovery near a trash bin at the back of the motel. Sarah Nelson, The Courier-Journal, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grisly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of grisly

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for grisly

Middle English, from Old English grislic, from gris- (akin to Old English āgrīsan to fear); akin to Old High German grīsenlīh terrible

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The first known use of grisly was in the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near grisly



Gris-Nez, Cape

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Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Grisly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for grisly


gris·​ly | \ ˈgriz-lē How to pronounce grisly (audio) \
grislier; grisliest

Kids Definition of grisly

: horrible sense 1, gruesome a grisly murder

More from Merriam-Webster on grisly

Nglish: Translation of grisly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grisly for Arabic Speakers


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