grisly and grizzly - the difference

by Craig Shrives
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
Interactive Exercise
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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words