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>
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>
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."
Origin and Etymology of grisly
Middle English, from Old English grislic, from gris- (akin to Old English āgrīsan to fear); akin to Old High German grīsenlīh terrible
First Known Use: 12th century
Synonym Discussion of grisly
GRISLY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of grisly for English Language Learners
: causing horror or fear : very shocking
GRISLY Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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