Although grisly, gristly, and grizzly sound alike, these words have very different meanings. They may be grisly and can eat gristly meat but not all bears are grizzly. This post will help you identify the differences between these terms to help you properly use them in your writing.
The word grisly is used as an adjective meaning “inspiring horror or intense fear” or “inspiring disgust or distaste.”
Grisly find exposes China’s dirty trade in used blood bags and syringes
South China Morning Post
A juror spent months hearing about a serial killer’s grisly acts. Not being part of the verdict left a void.
Los Angeles Times
After Grisly Killings in Pennsylvania, a Quick Deal to Spare Execution
The New York Times
Meanwhile, the term gristly is used as an adjective meaning “rubbery or full of cartilage” or “consisting of or full of gristle.”
Chipotle: Demand For Its Disgusting Gristly Meat Drops
“Some bits are too gristly but the rest of it is enjoyable, particularly with the black polenta…”
The Business Times
“Aside from the smartphone, nothing else distracts us from listening and connecting with others quite like struggling with a gristly steak or slurping ramen from chopsticks.”
On the other hand, the word grizzly is used as a noun referring to “an animal of a large race of the brown bear native to North America.”
Not smarter than your average bear: Huge grizzly gets washed down a waterfall after misjudging the current of raging river
Two men mauled by grizzly in Dewar Creek area near Kimberley
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Garbage-eating grizzly bear killed in Deadhorse
Alaska Dispatch News
Now that you learned the differences between these terms, you will be able to avoid getting confused with using them in the future. Remember, it is normal for a person to be terrified of a grisly scene where a grizzly is chewing on gristly meat.