sometimes I have a hard time understanding what certain words mean, even after I've looked them up in three or four dictionaries.

What I understand is that "gruesome" and "grisly" are exactly the same (they are treated as synonyms), and they basically mean: "very unpleasant, shocking, horrible, usually because connected with death or bad injury".

However, reading the definition, I got the impression they might be connected more with "killing or being hurt badly by someone" than just "death or bad injury" in general. Is it so? Can someone tell me more about these adjectives? Thanks Emotion: smile
COCA comparison gives "gruesome" a much higher frequency of usage, which jives with my impression of it being more commonly used.

"Gruesome details" and "gory details" are nearly the same set phrases about the minute and horrid details of a lurid and tragic story, usually but not necessarily associated with murder, perhaps with war and battles, or a bad accident. "Grisly details" is a phrase more often connected with the details of a horrific murder, but gruesome can also be used.
There is actually not much difference between these synonyms.
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Thanks! I see. Emotion: smile Sometimes some vocabulary really drives me crazy.
I know what you mean. English is a vacuum cleaner language of words from all sorts of places. Besides Old English, it sucked up stuff from Greek, Latin, German, Old French, and a host of others when the Brits "ruled the seas". We are bogged down with lots of colorful words and synonyms galore. No wonder it took them years to make the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary....