Grizzly/Grisly

The word “grisly” (from the Old English “grisan,” to shudder) first appeared in English in the 12th century meaning “causing great fear or terror or dread, as of death,” but in modern use “grisly” has been diluted a bit, and generally means simply “scary” or, most often, “grim, frightening and shocking.” In journalism, “grisly” has become a euphemism for “brutal” or “bloody” (“Investigation continues into grisly elevator death,” ABC News headline, 12/11). In our house, at least, “grisly” is a code word for “change the channel.”

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