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A Gray/Grey Area

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How do you spell the color “gray”? Well, it depends on who you ask. We’ll explore the two different spellings of this color and where you can expect to find one spelling over the other.

Text reads "How To Spell Gray" on top of a gradient red background with squiggly lines and shapes.
You might have noticed this color spelled as “gray” and “grey.” We’ll cover why this is so.
  • Gray is common in American English.
  • Grey is common in British English
    (also in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa).

What Does “Gray” Mean?

Gray can be a noun, an adjective, and a verb.

As a noun, “gray” refers to “the intermediate color between black and white.”

When painting, I often mix up the white acrylic paint with black to get the shade of gray I desire.

Gray, the adjective, describes things that are this color.

I was looking for gray shoes to match my outfit.

As a verb, (to) gray means to become gray with age (and usually refers to hair).

Wow, I haven’t seen you in a while. Your hair sure has grayed.

So, Is It “Gray” or “Grey”

This leaves us with the question: Is it gray or grey? The answer is that both are correct, depending on who you ask.

Gray is the preferred spelling in American English, while grey is how this word is spelled in British English. Both variations of this word come from the Old English “grǣg,” and are pronounced the same.

GIF of an American flag with the word "gray" (with an a) over it.
“Gray” is the preferred spelling in American English.
GIF of the British flag with the word "grey" (with an e) over it.
“Grey” is the spelling used in British English.

Expressions and Quotes with the Word “Gray”


You might have heard of the phrase a gray area. This refers to a situation or field that is “ambiguous, unclear, or open to interpretation.”

Winning takes precedence over all. There's no gray area. No almosts. —Kobe Bryant
I don't have to choose between high fashion or streetwear. My brand reminds me that it doesn't have to fit in a box. It can just be in a gray area. —Virgil Abloh

Occasionally, gray is used on its own to refer to this “unclear and ambiguous area,” as in the following quote:

The color of truth is gray. —Andre Gide

Don’t Let This “Gray” Your Hair

The variations of how this color is spelled can be confusing, especially if you’re an English language learner. However, you shouldn’t let this gray/grey your hair. LanguageTool, a multilingual text editor, can detect which dialect you’re writing in, and make sure you use the correct variation of this word.






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