griz·​zly | \ ˈgriz-lē How to pronounce grizzly (audio) \
grizzlier; grizzliest

Definition of grizzly

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Frequently Asked Questions About grizzly

Is grizzly a noun or an adjective?

Grizzly is both a noun and an adjective. The adjective, meaning "grizzled; sprinkled or streaked with gray," came first. In the early 19th century grizzly also began to be used as a noun, a shortened form of grizzly bear (which was so named because of the animal's grayish fur).

What is the difference between grizzly and grisly?

Grizzly bears are large and ferocious carnivores, and so it is not at all surprising that many people would assume that the initial portion of their name should be interchangeable with grisly. However, grizzly and grisly are not at all synonymous. Grizzly means "sprinkled or streaked with gray," and grisly means "inspiring horror or intense fear" or "inspiring disgust or distaste."

"Are grizzly and grisly from the same root?"

Although these two words are spelled in similar fashion and are often confused, they do not share a root. The word grizzly derives from the Middle English grisel¸ which means "gray" and comes from the Anglo-French gris, describing the same color. Grisly, on the other hand, comes from the Old English grislic, related to an Old English verb meaning "to fear."

Examples of grizzly in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web From grizzly bears to orca whales, at least 137 different species depend on the marine-rich nutrients that wild salmon provide. Jordan Strickler, Forbes, 11 June 2021 According to the History Channel, Chilko Lake, British Columbia, also known as Grizzly Mountain, is home to the densest population of grizzly bears, the deadliest predator in North America. Mike Miller,, 6 May 2021 Yellowstone's grizzly population was down to just 136 in 1975, according to the park. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021 The Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday released its first assessment in almost a decade about the status of grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S. Matthew Brown, Star Tribune, 31 Mar. 2021 The Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday released its first assessment in almost a decade about the status of grizzly bears in the contiguous U.S. states. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Mar. 2021 In Ecuador, Tuesday’s violence, which included grizzly mutilations by inmates who recorded the acts with cellphones, rattled a nation that has seen an increase in prison violence in recent years. Ryan Dube, WSJ, 24 Feb. 2021 As the prairies were plowed, grizzly bears retreated into the mountains. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021 The house where Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother famously met a grizzly end is now on sale for $2 million. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grizzly.' 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 grizzly

1594, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for grizzly

Time Traveler

The first known use of grizzly was in 1594

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Statistics for grizzly

Last Updated

20 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grizzly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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