grisly

adjective
gris·​ly | \ˈgriz-lē \
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

For more than two decades, forensic photographer Nick Marsh has been taking pictures of grisly crime scenes all over the United Kingdom. Jordan Valinsky, Popular Mechanics, "What It's Really Like to be a Forensic Photographer," 21 Apr. 2015 The man at the center of one of the most grisly cases in recent Phoenix history was sentenced to 29 years in prison Friday morning, nearly three years after beheading his wife and two dogs before mutilating himself. Megan Cassidy, azcentral, "Phoenix man who beheaded wife and dogs gets 29 years in prison," 6 Apr. 2018 The grisly attack has alarmed athletes in Durban who routinely get up in the early morning darkness to train when few people are on the roads, and there was no immediate explanation for why Gwala was targeted. OrlandoSentinel.com, "South African triathlete severely injured in saw attack," 7 Mar. 2018 The grisly attack has alarmed athletes in Durban who routinely get up in the early morning darkness to train when few people are on the roads, and there was no immediate explanation for why Gwala was targeted. Bloomberg.com, "South African Triathlete Severely Injured in Saw Attack," 7 Mar. 2018 In each case, officers turn up in environmental suits and masks, sorting through the grisly discoveries, from pill bottles to notepads and photos left behind, hoping to piece together the lives of people like Unger who ended up in the parking lots. J.d. Gallop, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Nearly half a dozen people have died in Walmart parking lots in Brevard County since 2015," 24 June 2018 Last week, when a body was found in a Pennsylvania creek across the street from his home, Matthew Haverly went outside to speak to the local news crews who were there to cover the grisly discovery. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "After Allegedly Beating Mom to Death, Man Gave TV Interview Claiming It Was 'Some Kind of a Hit'," 11 June 2018 What started as a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight in Springfield, Massachusetts, has escalated into a succession of grisly discoveries that have shaken the blue-collar city. NBC News, "3 bodies found at home of Massachusetts man accused of kidnapping, torture," 1 June 2018 Using testimony from police detectives, medical experts, grieving relatives and Mikayla — who is now 11 — prosecutors presented the jury with the grisly story. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "Killer Sentenced to Maximum Term for Elevator Stabbing Death of 6-Year-Old," 22 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near grisly

gris-gris

griskin

grisle

grisly

Gris-Nez, Cape

grison

grissen

Statistics for grisly

Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for grisly

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

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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 \
grislier; grisliest

Kids Definition of grisly

: horrible sense 1, gruesome a grisly murder

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Comments on grisly

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