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 These management practices have demonstrated low success rates for grizzly hunters, with positive effects on the ungulate populations and very strong bear populations. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, "Alaska’s Bear Hunting Regulation Changes Aren’t as Sensational as They Sound," 22 June 2020 The image of the tough, grizzly settler became associated with the frontier, but so too was the frontier a space to experiment with governance and freedoms. Lisa Messeri, Slate Magazine, "We Need to Stop Talking About Space as a “Frontier”," 15 Mar. 2017 But then the games started and West would give one of those grizzly head nods for a cut. Anthony Slater, The Mercury News, "Warriors film room: David West is one of the NBA’s best passing big men," 7 Mar. 2017

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

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The first known use of grizzly was in 1594

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Statistics for grizzly

Last Updated

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grizzly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grizzly

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