grisly

adjective
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

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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" must be a variant of "grisly," right? Yes and no. The adjective "grisly" is indeed sometimes spelled "grizzly," but the "grizzly" in "grizzly bear" is a different animal altogether. Grisly derives from an Old English predecessor, "grislic," which is itself related to an Old English verb meaning "to fear." "Grizzly" comes from the Middle English adjective grisel, meaning "gray." Like its close relative "grizzled," this grizzly means "sprinkled or streaked with gray." In other words, the grizzly 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. The misperception that the bear's name reflects its reputed fierceness probably contributed to the development of the "grizzly" variant of "grisly."

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 Instead of grisly battle scenes, Layton’s intaglios feature whimsical images of flowers such as magnolias and daisies. Lia Picard, House Beautiful, "The Young Creative Making an Ancient Roman Design Cool Again," 2 Apr. 2021 Video footage from local police stations showed a grisly scene at the open-air apartment complex. New York Times, "F.B.I. Agents Killed in Florida Shooting," 2 Feb. 2021 Not long afterward, following a grisly accident, the helicopter service was discontinued. New York Times, "Am I in Manhattan? Or Another Sequel to ‘Blade Runner’?," 11 Mar. 2021 The case eventually led to the grisly discovery of 19 bodies of young women buried on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of Feb. 14-20," 12 Feb. 2021 Throughout Thursday’s hearings, prosecutors recalled the grisly details — the victims clubbed and stabbed with a paring knife and ice pick, their four different blood types being discovered throughout the house. Josh Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "‘Fatal Vision’ killer Jeffrey MacDonald wants judge to grant ‘compassionate’ exit from federal prison in Maryland," 12 Mar. 2021 Per the Times, the researchers think the sea slugs’ grisly strategy may be a way of ridding themselves of parasites. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Sea Slug’s Decapitated Head Crawls Around Before Regrowing a Body," 10 Mar. 2021 For months, rumors spread of a grisly assault on an Orthodox church in Dengelat. Bethlehem Feleke, CNN, "Massacre in the mountains," 26 Feb. 2021 The case eventually led to the grisly discovery of 19 bodies of young women buried on the South Shore of Long Island, New York. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of Feb. 14-20," 12 Feb. 2021

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.

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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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Time Traveler for grisly

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grisly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grisly. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for grisly

grisly

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of grisly

: causing horror or fear : very shocking

grisly

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

Kids Definition of grisly

: horrible sense 1, gruesome a grisly murder

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Comments on grisly

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