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 Police made the grisly discovery at the Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville after being tipped off. Giovana Gelhoren,, 2 July 2022 The Dragonborn rushes to Falkreath Sanctuary, only to discover a grisly scene. Wired, 5 July 2022 But, what lurks at the heart of that grisly crime might not be the season’s most exciting surprise. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, 28 June 2022 With a family’s permission, Tanner will show children the grisly photos taken in the aftermath of her accident and tell them how slow the machine was going — and how fast things can go terribly wrong. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, 30 May 2022 The families of the victims never saw the grisly photos. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2022 The families of the victims never saw the grisly photos. al, 2 Jan. 2022 In the late 1990s, on one of their earliest tours, the Drive-By Truckers nearly met a grisly fate. Stephen Deusner, SPIN, 28 June 2022 The grisly discovery is likely the deadliest human smuggling event on U.S. soil. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 28 June 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

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Grisly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 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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