Word Confusion: Grisly vs Gristly vs Grizzly

Posted September 19, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I must confess I tend to associate grisly with gristle, and oh man, is that ever tasty on a steak or pork roast! In truth, while grisly and grizzly sound alike, they certainly aren’t spelled alike. And no, Grizzly Adams was a movie and then a TV show, which happened to be about a mountain man catching grizzlies.

Gristly was added 14 November 2016.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Grisly Gristly Grizzly
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Severed Hand” courtesy of Live Science

It’s a grisly find.


Black-and-white photo demonstrating the removal of gristle from a heart

“Braised, Stuffed Heart” by Ann Rosener is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Preparing a heart for cooking requires removing the gristly bits and blood vessels.


“Grizzly Bear” courtesy of National Geographic

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Adjective Adjective 1, 2; Noun 3
Plural for noun: grizzlies
Causing horror or disgust Consisting of or full of gristle Adjective:
Gray or gray-haired 1

[Of a child] Inclined to cry fretfully 2

Noun:
[[Ursus arctos horribilis] An animal of a large race of the brown bear native to North America

Examples:
The town was shaken by a series of grisly crimes.

It was the most grisly murder I had ever seen.

All that blood…body parts…it was a grisly scene for all of us.

There were a lot of gristly bits of beef.

All the gristly meat explained why it was so cheap.

It’s best to braise gristly meat.

Adjective:
“I love how grizzly his mustache is,” she sighed.

Janice couldn’t take it anymore. She had to get that grizzly mop cut and dyed!

She was such a grizzly baby.

Noun:
Ahhh, it’s a grizzly! Run!!

Yep, there’s where I want to see grizzlies…at the zoo.

Derivatives:
Adjective: grislier, grisliest
Noun: grisliness
Adjective: gristlier, gristliest
Noun: gristle, gristliness
Adjective: grizzlier, grizzliest
Noun: grizzler
Verb, intransitive: grizzle
History of the Word:
Old English grislic meaning terrifying is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch griezelig. Old English, of unknown origin. 1 Mid-16th century, from grizzle.

2 Unknown origin.

3 Early 19th century, from grizzle.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“A Rough and Tumble with a Grizzley” by H. Bullock Webster is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


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