January 30, 2013
grisly (adjective)
\GRIZ-lee\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: horrible, gruesome
How do you use it?
"When they reached the haunted house there was something so weird and grisly about the dead silence that reigned there . . . that they were afraid, for a moment, to venture in."
Are you a word wiz?

Don't let our question scare you. In which of the following works of literature do you think you can find the quotation we've used as our example sentence for "grisly"?

Although Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley are known for writing grisly tales, the quotation actually comes from _The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_, by Mark Twain. If you picked Jack London, you might have been thinking of "grizzly." "Grizzly" looks and sounds like "grisly," but it means "sprinkled, streaked, or mixed with gray." Grizzly bears are named for the grayish appearance of their fur. Though people sometimes use the spelling "grizzly" to mean "gruesome," "grisly" is far more common, and many people consider "grizzly" correct only when used to mean "streaked with gray."
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