• grizzle •
gri-zÍl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. Streaks of gray in the hair. 2. Resentful grumbling, a sulking mood.
Notes: The adjective from today's word is grizzly, most frequently associated with the grizzly bears of the north. Grizzly simply means streaked or tipped with gray. A grizzly or grizzled man or woman is one whose hair is graying, but not yet completely gray. The verb usually refers to bringing on a bad mood, e.g. 'His off-color remarks grizzled all the women in the office', but it can also refer to the process of graying.
In Play: You shouldn't let grizzly hair grizzle you; there are plenty of remedies on the shelf at the pharmacy. Of course, grizzly bears and grizzly people make distinctly different impressions despite sharing today's attribute. The second sense of today's Good Word probably comes from its association with grizzly bears, often referred to as simply grizzlies. However, remember, a drizzle of grizzle in the hair of a human is an elegant reminder of maturity.
Word History: The philosophical question of the day is: what do grizzly bears have in common with perfume? Certainly not the aroma, but the etymology. Today's word comes from the French grisaille, a style of painting in shades of gray that appears to be relief carving in stone. Grisaille comes from the French gris "gray". Now, when it comes to amber, the French originally distinguished ambre jaune "yellow amber" from ambre gris "gray amber". Ambergris, as we now call it, is a grayish, waxy substance secreted by the innards of whales and found floating in the ocean. It is widely used in the manufacture of perfume—and is unrelated to grease. (Today's Good Word, suggested by a friend of long standing, Lyn Laboriel, should not grizzle anyone.)