Difference between Gray and Grey

Updated on June 28, 2017

This topic is one that people may call trivial but is one that has been bothering many of us for a long time: the difference between “gray” and “grey.” Some think there is no difference between the two, while others may have already given up on knowing the answer and have decided to rely on autocorrect (if “grey” is underlined in red, it’s probably the wrong way to spell it, right?). In this article, we will finally shed some light on this confusion.

Descriptions

Gray
Different shades of gray (or grey)

Gray is a neutral color between white and black. It is often referred to as a “balanced color” because it is composed of equal amounts of red, green, and blue. It is the color of ash, cement, lead, and a stormy sky.

The color gray is sometimes used to project indifference, boredom, neutrality, and uncertainty in psychology and art. In the Bible, it is used to symbolize old age, remorse, lamentation, and contemplation. In folklore, it is often associated with dusk, shadows, secrecy, and mythical creatures.

The term “gray” may also refer to a unit of measurement used in science. Its symbol is Gy and it is equal to a single joule of radiation energy for every kilogram of matter.

The word “gray” is widely used in the United States and countries where American English is used. However, in the United Kingdom and other countries that use British English, the spelling variation grey is used more often.

Although the “gray” and “grey” are loosely interchanged by some English speakers, it is important to note that there are some instances wherein they should not be switched.

For instance, if you are talking about the unit of measurement used in science (Gy), always use “gray” and never “grey.” If you are talking about a species of fish, it is always “grayling” and never “greyling.” Additionally, if you are referring to a certain dog breed, it is always “greyhound” and never “grayhound.” Proper nouns should also not be interchanged. If a person’s last name is “Gray,” it will always be “Gray” and should never be changed to “Grey” (and vice versa).

Gray vs Grey

What, then, is the difference between “gray” and “grey”?

Both “gray” and “grey” refer to the same neutral color between black and white. The only difference is that “gray” is used in American English whereas “grey” is used in British English. Whenever you are confused, just remember that America starts with an “a” (gray) and England starts with an “e” (grey).

Comparison Chart

GrayGrey
Used in American EnglishUsed in British English
Refers to the neutral color between black and white; also a unit of measurement used in science that is is equal to a single joule of radiation energy for every kilogram of matter (symbol: Gy)Refers to the neutral color between black and white