Definition of grisly in English:



  • Causing horror or disgust.

    ‘the town was shaken by a series of grisly crimes’
    • ‘It was a particularly grisly murder case and one that understandably shook the veteran blues man to his core.’
    • ‘Shots were being fired from the tower in every direction as we approached the grisly scene.’
    • ‘My plea also goes out to the parents of the ones doing these grisly acts.’
    • ‘The grisly discoveries mean even more tension in areas shaken by an insurgent uprising.’
    • ‘The horrified owners of a popular bakery today told of their shock at being caught up in York's grisly double murder hunt.’
    • ‘This structure works well, and a grisly but fascinating story begins to emerge.’
    • ‘This opening scene sets the tone for a grisly, gory and sometimes comic werewolf horror film.’
    • ‘What strange obsession drives the authors of grisly true-crime books?’
    • ‘Tony also works as a forensic archaeologist for Glasgow police, and has worked on what he described as grisly murder cases.’
    • ‘The story of secrecy, scientific ethics and national security is macabre, grisly and disturbing.’
    • ‘The first grisly find was a dead body inside a car.’
    • ‘Despite the rather grisly subject matter, it is a fascinating subject.’
    • ‘The more garishly grisly the story becomes, the paler its credibility.’
    • ‘Detectives have been called in after a three-year-old girl made a grisly discovery on the doorstep of her York home.’
    • ‘Jurors were spared much of the gory detail in the case, but the horrific nature of the crime and the grisly aftermath was hard to avoid.’
    • ‘This is the man police believe could hold the key to the grisly murder of two men, whose battered bodies were found in a York bedsit.’
    • ‘There are several grisly murders involved, but fortunately the emphasis is not on the gore but on the characters.’
    • ‘He was determined not to suffer the same grisly fate and kept walking until he found a remote abandoned log cabin where he made his home.’
    • ‘By and large we know the sort of thing to expect, however grisly.’
    • ‘The grisly work of recovering the bodies floating in the streets and houses of New Orleans has begun.’
    gruesome, ghastly, frightful, horrid, horrifying, fearful, hideous, macabre, spine-chilling, horrible, horrendous, grim, awful, dire, dreadful, terrible, horrific
    disgusting, repulsive, repugnant, revolting, repellent, sickening, distressing, shocking, appalling, abominable, loathsome, abhorrent, odious, monstrous, unspeakable
    sick, sick-making, gut-churning, gross
    disgustful, loathly
    View synonyms


The words grisly and grizzly are quite different in meaning, though often confused. Grisly means ‘causing horror or disgust’, as in grisly crimes, whereas grizzly is chiefly used with reference to a kind of large American bear, and can also mean ‘grey or grey-haired’


Old English grislic ‘terrifying’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch griezelig.