There are 2 main definitions of grizzly in English:

Share this entry

grizzly 1

Pronunciation: /ˈɡrizlē/

noun (plural grizzlies)

(also grizzly bear)
An animal of a large race of the brown bear native to North America.
  • Ursus arctos horribilis, family Ursidae
Example sentences
  • The area is home to around 40 grizzlies and an unknown number of smaller black bears.
  • There were wolves about in those days, as well as grizzlies in Montana and Alberta.
  • The polar bear may surpass the Alaskan grizzly in size, with the maximum recorded weighing 726 kg.

adjective (grizzlier, grizzliest)

Gray or gray-haired.
Example sentences
  • He looked old and gruff, with a grizzly gray beard and a deeply tanned face.
  • He had a grizzly gray beard, a dirty brown shirt, denim pants and dark black hair that was very untidy.
  • The man stood up, and his graying, grizzly brown hair toppled into his brown eyes as he glared at Colin.


Mid 16th century (as adjective): from grizzle2. The noun dates from the early 19th century.

  • A grizzly is a large North American bear which has brown fur with white-tipped hairs. Fearsome though the bear's appearance is, its name has nothing to do with the word grisly. In fact grizzly is a variant of grizzled (Late Middle English), ‘streaked with grey hair’. This comes from Old French gris ‘grey’, whereas grisly is from Old English grislic, meaning ‘terrifying’. Grizzle (mid 18th century) meaning ‘to cry or whine’ is a different word again. It started life in the dialect of Devon and Cornwall, and originally meant ‘to grin or laugh’, so has taken the opposite route to grin.

Words that rhyme with grizzly

drizzly, grisly, Sisley
Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of grizzly in English:

Share this entry

grizzly 2

Pronunciation: /ˈɡrɪzli/

Entry from British & World English dictionary

adjective (grizzlier, grizzliest)

(Of a child) inclined to cry fretfully: a grizzly baby
More example sentences
  • I also had a grizzly child on hand and I knew there would be trouble if he didn't sleep.
  • ‘Teething powders’ found in pharmacies are homeopathic Chamomilla 3X granules, which can be very soothing for grizzly babies.
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.