Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An unbearable scene

It was one of the editors I hired who, a while back, made sure that you did not read a description of a homicide as a grizzly scene.

A grizzly is North American brown bear (Ursa arctos) so called because its brown fur has white tips. The word derives from grizzle — gray hair. Thus you would describe the author of this blog as a grizzled editor, among other terms. The etymology of grizzle is uncertain, the Oxford English Dictionary says.

The word the writer was reaching for is grisly — terrifying, horrible, ghastly. It derives from the Old English grislic, allied to agrisan, to terrify.