Have you ever wondered what the reason some writers’ use the word ‘gray’ and others spell it ‘grey’? What is the hush-hush to spelling this word correctly? While some may consider that one is the colour and the other is a name, others have different theories concerning which spelling is correct. Let’s find out more.
You can use this grammar checker tool with a sample sentence and see the difference.
What’s the Difference?
The foremost difference between the English term gray and grey is the spelling, and this originates in the United States vs. United Kingdom version of the word. In the US, “gray” is more accepted and is the common spelling of choice, whereas, in the UK, it is typically “grey” which individuals will use.
Fundamentally, they are different spellings of the exact same word. So they have the same meanings, and both have their origins in Old English. As such, both are adequate ways to write the word or use it in a sentence.
While individuals may have their own grounds for distinguishing one spelling for certain situations over another, both spellings are intrinsically the same, which also include when used in other forms of the word, such as graying (greying) or gray area (grey area).
Particularly, however, words that specifically use gray/grey, as “greyhound” or “grayling,” are constantly spelled with an e and a correspondingly.
Whereas you may have seen both versions, you can rest certain knowing that in the gray vs grey debate, either is acceptable, and you don’t have to be bothered about knowing when to use which!
Variations in English
There are actually very few situations in which ‘grey’ and ‘gray’ are not exchangeable. Both spellings are correct in practice in all circumstances. The prime difference between these two words is that ‘gray’ is the outline of the word that is most generally used in the United States of America, while the rest of the English-speaking world leans on the word ‘grey.’
‘Gray’ and ‘grey’ are not the only words that are spelled in a different way depending on which piece of the world you live in. Here are some others:
|American English||Other English|
Get the idea? Neither spelling is correct, nor is it incorrect when referencing a color or an outlook on things.
Uses of grey/gray:
The colour, grey, has two spellings but they mean precisely the same. It is not clear when the spelling became dissimilar or which spelling was first used to refer to the colour grey but one thing is sure, they are one and the same However in some cases they may have other uses too. Grey is described as the colour from black to white. It may also be called a neutral colour or achromatic colour. The name was first manipulated in the English language in the year AD 700.
The colour grey can be a combination of different colours that have warm and cool casts. Grey is possibly a result of combining the colours yellow, orange, and red. The follow-on colour will be warm grey. While, the combination of blue, green and violet can result in a cool grey.
Grey admires itself; even if the colour spectrum is inverted it remains grey. It is its own contradictory or it does not have an opponent at all.
The word grey is also used in various aspects of life. Environmentalists make clear that people who prefer city life and materials are termed as greys, while they explain themselves as greens. In ethics, it is used to enlighten situations that have no clear moral values and to balance an all-black or all-white view.
Moreover, it has also been used as a military dress policy, in music, politics, poetry, sports and television. It is also related to the passage of time, which is due to the graying of the human hair as a person gets older.
The colour grey has also been connected with folklore and mythology, with the goddess Athena having grey eyes. Those who are suffering from mental illness or depression are supposed to have grey auras.
Additionally, the colour Grey connotes different meanings to different aspects of man’s life. It is more often used to portray something that has no clear meaning or something in between. The colour is even being used to describe gays. Also UFO conspiracy theorists refer to intelligent alien humanoids as greys.
On the other hand Gray can refer to a band, a horse which is sometimes misguided for a white horse, a unit of energy for an immersed dose of radiation, a code used to trim down bit change between adjacent values or a person with the surname, gray.
Artists sometimes use the two unlike spellings to make the distinction between grey that is the result of a grouping of black and white and grey that is the outcome of a combination of other colours.
History of Gray/Grey
The current day spelling of gray (grey) actually comes from the Old English grǣg. All the way through the centuries there have been many variations in spellings, ei and ey and ai and ay.
There have also been attempts to make a distinction between grey and gray into different colours or hues, with the colour gray being a simply black and white mixture but the colour grey being slightly bluer. Possibly this is why national surveys in both England and the United States show that many people consider these are in reality two different hues, even though they aren’t.
Despite the complex history, all you need to know is that they are used for different audiences.
Remember the Difference
A simple trick to keep in mind, when to use which of these two words is that Gray is used in America and Grey is used in England.
So, how do you spell grey? Well, even though people get puzzled on the gray vs. grey debate, they can in point of fact be used interchangeably. It is still important, nevertheless, to keep your audience in mind.
So remember that the two spellings are used to describe the grey colour that results from combining either black and white or the grey colour that results from combining other colours like green or red, and blue, violet orange and yellow.