Posted by: episystechpubs | December 20, 2018

Editor’s Corner: The Grisly Details About “Grizzly”

Two commonly confused words are grisly and grizzly. Here are the definitions from Merriam-Webster:

  • grisly: inspiring horror or intense fear; inspiring disgust or distaste
  • grizzly: sprinkled or streaked with gray

Grizzly can also be short for grizzly bear, which was probably named for its gray fur.

  • grizzly bear: a very large brown bear (Ursus arctos) of northwestern North America

Some people think that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark meant to describe the North American brown bear as scary, not gray. (They’re often both!) In 1814 (less than a decade after the Lewis and Clark Expedition), Henry Marie Brackenridge described grizzly bears as “the enemy of man” and wrote that they “literally thirst for human blood.”

The most common mistake writers make is misusing the word grizzly to mean horrible or disgusting. A Google search yields thousands of results for the phrase “grizzly details” (sic), though some of them are punning references to bears.

A less common mistake is misusing the word gristly:

  • gristly: consisting of or containing gristle (tough cartilaginous, tendinous, or fibrous matter especially in table meats)

I like to use mnemonics to remember confusing word pairs. I couldn’t find any good ones online, so bear with me as I share two that I came up with.

Tip: If something is scary, it is grisly. Grisly contains the letter S for scary.

Tip: If meat is tough, it is gristly. Gristly contains the letter T for tough.

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

Did someone forward this email to you? Click here to subscribe.

Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

Do you have a question or an idea for Editor’s Corner? Send your suggestions or feedback to Kara, <a href="mailto:DBurcher, Jackie, or <a href="mailto:BRitter.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 | www.Symitar.com

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: