‘Grizzly’ or ‘grisly’?

The words grisly and grizzly are often confused but are quite different in meaning. Grisly means ‘causing horror or disgust’, as in:

the gang committed a series of grisly crimes 

Whereas grizzly is chiefly used with reference to a kind of large American bear and can also mean ‘grey or grey-haired’, as in:

as the years went on he became grizzly in appearance

There is also the word gristly, which is pronounced similarly to grizzly and grisly, but means ‘consisting of or full of gristle’.

the beef was extremely gristly


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Grammar and usage