The Difference Between ‘Grizzly’ and ‘Grisly’

Adjective horror used to describe something that inspires horror or disgust:

“American Horror Story” is a good movie horror Shows. No one should be too surprised by that revelation – it’s a promise implicit in its name, after all. — Lacy Baugher, Baltimore SunNovember 3, 2016

Homophone adjectives grizzly describe something gray, especially fur or hair that color:

He was rarely seen without his baggy cardigan, while behind his dense fence was grizzly hair and beard, a grin can be caught from time to time – London TimesJanuary 22, 2018

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When it comes to usage, don’t play dead.

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is so named because of its gray coat, despite being classified as the same species as the brown bear. The grizzly species, which is native to North America, usually has light-colored tips, which give them a gray color.

Where did ‘Gray Bear’ come from?

from grizzly derived from Middle English grilled meatmeans “gray” and comes from the English-French word gris, describe the same color. Adjective grizzly means “silver hair” or “marked with streaks of silver”, but since human hair usually doesn’t turn gray until old age, the word comes with a hint of age or experience, like in “a grizzly veteran of the fight against linguistic mistakes.”

Despite their differences, it is a common occurrence for grizzly used in case horror is the right word:

Photos from inside derailed Amtrak vehicles in Washington state show a grizzly ramshackle metal scene and broken windows — AOL.comDecember 19, 2017

Let’s say you finally find your dream home—and you have $2.3 million on hand to buy it—but it comes with a small catch: it happens to be the location of an organization notorious, grizzly killing. What you will do? — Los Angeles Time OutJuly 27, 2016

Hidden Agenda focuses on a group of people trying to stop a serial killer, so you can expect to see a lot grizzly death scene like in Until Dawn. — joinJune 12, 2017

Confusion is understandable. Although they are said to avoid contact with humans, grizzly bears’ sheer size and strength are enough to cause fear and a reputation for ferocity. The image of a bear attacking a person, or perhaps ransacking a campsite, can certainly evoke the feelings of fear or dread suggested by horror.

Where does ‘Grisly’ come from?

But horror is in fact a separate word, derived from Old English Ghostly, related to an Old English verb meaning “to fear.” That’s why it’s used to describe things like murder scenes and gory movies.

See more:  'Elude' and 'Allude'

And what if a grizzly was wanted for a terrible crime? You may want to make sure your context is clear if you opt in grizzly via horroror you can choose a pun, as some writers have done:

Canadian police are investigating a case grizzly The scene took place in Innisfail, Alberta Dairy Queen earlier this week, when an online video emerged of a small bear eating ice cream from a driver’s window. — Charlie Heller, Food & WineJanuary 19, 2018

DISCOVER MORE: Bear Words vs. Bare Words

Categories: Usage Notes

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