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[griz-lee] /ˈgrɪz li/
adjective, grislier, grisliest.
causing a shudder or feeling of horror; horrible; gruesome:
a grisly murder.
formidable; grim:
a grisly countenance.
Origin of grisly1
before 1150; Middle English; Old English grislīc horrible; cognate with Old High German grīsenlīh
Related forms
grisliness, noun
Can be confused
grisly, gristly, grizzled, grizzly.


[gris-lee] /ˈgrɪs li/
adjective, grislier, grisliest. Obsolete.
1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grisly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Swift on her part she paid him back with grisly grasp, and grappled with him.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • So it might be, indeed, in a country where they were so plentiful, but it was not a grisly this time.

    Two Arrows William O. Stoddard
  • If he should slip there would be an end of it, for the grisly was close up now.

    Two Arrows William O. Stoddard
  • A grunt, a growl, a great lift, and the grisly was off the ground.

    Two Arrows William O. Stoddard
  • He had not been "treed," he had been bowldered, and the grisly had been arrowed and lanced thoroughly.

    Two Arrows William O. Stoddard
British Dictionary definitions for grisly


adjective -lier, -liest
causing horror or dread; gruesome
Derived Forms
grisliness, noun
Word Origin
Old English grislic; related to Old Frisian grislik, Old High German grīsenlīh


noun (pl) -lies
(obsolete) a variant spelling of grizzly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grisly

Old English grislic "horrible, dreadful," from root of grisan "to shudder, fear" (cf. Old Frisian grislik "horrible," Middle Dutch grisen "to shudder," Dutch griezelen, German grausen "to shudder, fear," Old High German grisenlik "horrible"), of unknown origin; Watkins connects it with the PIE root *ghrei- "to rub," on notion of "to grate on the mind." Cf. also gruesome, to which it probably is connected in some way.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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