Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

grisly and grizzly - the difference

The Quick Answer
The word grisly means horrible.

A grizzly is a bear from North America.

Grisly or Grizzly?

The words grisly and grizzly sound similar, but their meanings are quite different.


The adjective grisly means horrible, shockingly repellent, terrifying, or gruesome.

  • In the grisly climax to the South Park episode, the kids try to rescue Chef, but he falls off a bridge into a ravine, where he is impaled on a tree trunk and mauled by wild animals.
  • A convicted killer was today found guilty of a second murder, betrayed by his grisly habit of cutting off his victims' breasts.
  • The police spokesman told the reporters that they had uncovered some grisly clues in the missing-girl case.


The words grizzly (used as a noun or adjective) refers to a powerful brownish-yellow bear found in the uplands of western North America.  It can be called either a grizzly (plural: grizzlies) or a grizzly bear.
  • Avoid grizzly bears. If you get caught off guard by a grizzly, and it decides to attack you, shoot it in the heart. If you do not have a gun and you cannot get away, tuck into a tight ball or play dead. However, if the grizzly is intent on you being its next meal, fight back with everything you've got.
  • Pictures of grizzly bears amusing themselves in the river make them seem cute and innocent, but they are extremely dangerous.
  • Many Forest Service employees have laid their jobs on the line to prevent the destruction and fragmentation of the prime habitat for grisly bears.
  • (should be grizzly)

avoid grizzly bears or admire from a distance

  • Grizzled means having gray hairs.
  • Gristly means full of gristle (usually when referring to meat).
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