The Difference Between Gray and Grey

Album Cover: Life in 1472

"Even with a patch on my eye, I'm dreamy."
Slick Rick / Fresh

Posted on May 23, 2004 9:45 PM in Blathery
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

In the third grade I was entered in a spelling bee. During one of the earlier rounds, I was asked to give the spelling of the word "gray." Having a photographic memory, the image of a gray coloring crayon quickly came to mind. On its side, as is customary of most crayons, the crayon's color was written. The spelling I saw on that imagined crayon (which most certainly came from an actual experience in my past) was g-r-e-y. So, that is how I answered the question.

When I was told my spelling was incorrect, I returned to my chair and tried to fight back tears (I really wanted to win, and didn't feel I deserved to be leaving the event so quickly). Not minutes after I had sat down, one of the teachers in the room spoke up and said that she believed my spelling of the word gray was not incorrect. After some research (I believe we were in the school library, so it didn't take long), it was decided that my spelling of the word was acceptable, and I was allowed to continue participating. I eventually ended up winning the spelling bee — something I was very proud of at the time — but that is neither here nor there.

The point of this story is, there are two acceptable spellings of the word gray. Prior to today I was under the assumption that "gray" was the more popular of the pair, but after two quick Google searches for "gray" and "grey," I realized the difference seems to be very slight (on the Web, at least).

So what, then, is the difference between the two spellings? According to Google Answers, the two words have almost the same meaning in all cases, and g-r-a-y is simply an American derivation of the original spelling g-r-e-y. According to Flak Magazine, the difference can be chalked up to the same happenstances that led to organize/organise and judgement/judgment. Apparently e.e. cummings and Prince are partly to blame as well. However, among the several hypotheses for why gray and grey exist, I believe the following to be the best:

Gray is a color.

Grey is a *colour*.

So next time you're faced with the choice of spelling the word "gray," feel free to go with whatever spelling best suits you at the time. I think I'll continue to use g-r-e-y, just because it's been so lucky for me in the past.

Comments

georgia on June 15, 2004 at 10:52 PM:

i feel SOOO much better knowing this.
thank you very very much.

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dave on July 22, 2004 at 3:19 PM:

as someone who actively campaigns to see 'grey' returned to common usage (hey, you gotta be passionate about something) i applaud your post...

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Shlomo on July 28, 2004 at 12:41 AM:

And I STILL got a problem with my coding, trying either grey or gray (BTW bernie, search for "grey gray" in google and find your post.

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Teng Bing Ren on August 05, 2004 at 6:33 PM:

Thanks for the clarification on the differences. For one particular word with gr(e/a)y, I will always remember it as spelt with an 'e'. The word is greyhound.

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Robert on August 10, 2004 at 10:02 AM:

just to clarify, GRAY is the actual correct way of spelling the word in the United States. GREY is the correct way of spelling it in Great Britain. So they're not truly both correct.

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iko on August 31, 2004 at 8:12 AM:

thank you for this explanation. I wonder about for for a long time and today a colleague ask for the right spelling of grey and couldn't come with an answer. now, i know what to tell him.

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John W. Sharbrough, III on October 16, 2004 at 4:17 PM:

Like Dave, I too would like to see 'grey' returned to common usage.

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Constant on October 24, 2004 at 12:04 PM:

I really like your explanation that "gray is a color but grey is a colour"
Very good illustration!

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Moonstruck on November 15, 2004 at 12:29 PM:

As a UK resident with an odd picture of a "gray" wolf I thought that this was just a mistake on the print (and have been mocked about this unconventional spelling). Curiosity and doubt that a print run with such a grevious and simple (seeming) mistake led me to you. But now I have been enlightened, though "gray" still looks weird. I too will stick with grey because I always have (being British and all). Horray for the colours grey, and gray. (Sorry it just needs a prosthetic "u" if you spell it color)

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CARLA on November 25, 2004 at 4:46 PM:

I AM SO GLAD I FOUND THIS SITE THROUGH GOOGLE. I TELL U I THOUGHT I WAS NUTS. IT WAS THANKSGIVING AND MY MOM WAS TRYING TO TEACH MY 5 YEAR OLD HOW TO SPELL (GREY-GRAY) SHE WAS SAYING GRAY AND I THOUGHT THAT IS NOT RIGHT IT IS GREY. SO I BROUGHT UP THE GREYHOUND AND IT WAS ON FROM THERE FOR THE SEARCH OF THE CORRECT SPELLING. I AM GLAD TO KNOW WE WERE BOTH RIGHT. THANKS

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Ikester on December 04, 2004 at 5:15 PM:

Finally! An explanation for this perplexing problem. Now my life is complete.

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venkat on December 11, 2004 at 7:35 AM:

My little one, who is a first grader, was very upset to find out that she spelled GRAY wrongly in her class. After looking at your reply, she feels really good that her spelling was correct. Thanks for the explanation.

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Mukesh Dabhi on December 29, 2004 at 3:54 AM:

I am confusing about the spelling of word Grey which is generally used for irradiation. So, please let me know the real spelling.

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Lida Swarts on February 02, 2005 at 2:11 PM:

Thank you for making this easy. We had a discussion in class and 5 extra credit points were offered for finding the correct spelling. I will take your "story" to class and let them know that both are correct.

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Rick on February 10, 2005 at 10:59 AM:

The dose is the quantity of radiation energy absorbed by the food as it passes through the radiation field during processing. Dose is generally measured in Grays (G) or kiloGrays (kGy) where 1 Gray = 0.001 kGy = 1 joule of energy absorbed per kilogram of food irradiated. Dose can also be measured in Rads (100 Rads = 1 Gray).

I found this site through Google, as well. I am re-using a document written in Ireland and translating it to American English. Needless to say, I have changed the term "greyed-out" to "grayed-out."

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Bo on February 16, 2005 at 4:47 PM:

Being a Canadian, i have been brought up with the British version of grey, and that is the one i have used.

I have on countless occasions gotten into fights with people that have told me i spelled "gray" incorrectly, or me telling them that they spelled "grey" incorrectly.

personally, "Gray" looks like an ugly word, and almost every time i see it spelled that way, i almost read it as "gay"

of course, the answer for why Americans spell it as Gray is that very reason, they are Americans, and unable to spell things the way they were spelled originally (If Grey is the British version, then it is clear that Grey is the actual original and correct spelling of it). If Americans want it to be Gray, then they can start calling themselves "Amaricans"

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Nux on February 22, 2005 at 11:55 PM:

cool! ^_^
I knew the difference's between the american and the british way of spelling it.... but always got muddled between which is which. Was just about to look again for 'color' and 'colour', but you already covered it. cheers man!

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NA on March 10, 2005 at 3:48 AM:

What is this about radiation? The unit of radiation is called after a British Scientist "Louis Harold Gray". It has nothing to do with the colour.......unless, that is Americans decided not to use "grey" at all but to also call the colour after same said scientist and we are really lucky his name wasn't "Green"!.

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michael maher on March 19, 2005 at 9:22 AM:

I came across this site while trying to figure out how to list a product. With the help of this site, tihs is how we solved it:

http://www.wootini.com/item.php?id=234&t=itemv

-mike

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S. McCrann on March 19, 2005 at 2:09 PM:

The standard rule in medical transcription in the United States is that the American derivations are used - as in gray matter of the brain.

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Tim on April 06, 2005 at 6:42 PM:

Good analysis. Somebody said 'gray' is correct in the US, and 'grey' is correct in the UK. All true, however 'grey' is also correct in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a whole host of other countries:
http://members.tripod.com/the_english_dept/esc.html
My point? The word is 'grey'. The fact that Americans mis-spell the word, not to mention several other words, is beside the point.

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Don Crowder on April 07, 2005 at 10:58 PM:

Diversity is good. It leads to a better, happier world for everyone. The very human habit of "bashing" those who are different, in one way or another, has caused enless misery for untold numbers of people. Before we can learn from our mistakes we've got to admit them. I'm ok with whatever spelling you want to use. More importantly, I'm ok with whoever you are as long as we can meet as peers. Nuff said.

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Lei on April 28, 2005 at 6:04 PM:

I just encounterd this question, googled "gray and grey" and found here :-)

Thanks.

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Bonnie on May 01, 2005 at 4:06 AM:

Wow,
at 6:50 am trying to edit my final draft of a fiction piece, I googled, literally, "grey gray" just to see what would happen, after I noticed I spelled it differently using it twice in my story:
"The oatmeal grey sky looms"
and then later..."The dark gray fat dashboard?"
I wanted to get it right because it's the final for my class--and I'm procrastinating a bit here by reading it all and telling this little tale, but found this site so absolutely helpful and cute and even read some of the other responses! Who knew?
I noticed I used "e" maybe unconsciously following an "aeae" pattern w/ oatmeal; and the "a" version after the "a" in dark. Chalk it up to my English major analytical mind but I think that might be why!
Either way, now I'm leaving both in!
I guess it might be because I've been up all night, but I thought some people might be interested in that. Hey, if you're googling "grey/gray"--you just might be!

oh and by the way, Microsoft Word does not list synonyms for "grey", only the "a" American version...
*just cuz I noticed :)

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Dave on May 09, 2005 at 8:38 PM:

Grey REEKS of pretension. In America it is a fairly recent adoption by Madison Avenue geniuses who are marketing the new "colour" to easily impressionable yuppies with no spine, who now think they are getting a new color or something. Of course Americans have simplified many British spellings, a good thing for the most part. Of course, there will be inconsistencies. But this is pure bull.
I will bet MONEY that the same geeks that spell it grey also now say "An historical event" instead of the correct "a historical event"- also a recent development in the media.

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Dave on May 09, 2005 at 9:00 PM:

One more thing. You know what will be next? You will start to see "blue" spelled "bleu"(in wide usage) for no other reason than "it's French, it looks better".

For all these years in America we were taught "gray" and used it. Why the change? If Australians want to use British spellings, let them. And for that matter, sure, we here can use British spellings, but if there is no apparent reason to change, you have to wonder why people are so easily induced and... fickle.

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Bernie Zimmermann on May 10, 2005 at 3:34 PM:

Dave, chill.

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Nathaniel E. Sager on May 19, 2005 at 6:01 AM:

I have always used the spelling "grey", maybe because I am a New Englander. Seriously though, I have no idea why I might use this form. Perhaps becuase I have read so much British literature (Tolkien, Lewis). Anyhow, I will always prefer "grey", regardless of the country I live in. And no, I do not say "an historical event" or spell color as "colour".

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Frank N. Stein on May 20, 2005 at 4:34 AM:

exquisitely written, useful posting indeed.

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Kevin on May 20, 2005 at 7:47 AM:

You want to speak English? Learn to spell English! - an Englishman.

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Nakhos on May 29, 2005 at 9:05 AM:

Why can't we all just accept that both are equally correct, and anyone can use whichever depending on personal inclination? I'm American, but "grey" has always looked best to me. Part of the reason is that to me, at least, "grey" looks greyer. There are certain spelling discrepancies in which one is more correct than another, e.g. "centre" is much better than "center," while "realize" is more correct than "realise." In this case, however, both are correct and there is no reason to bash one of the other spellings.

-Nakhos

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Justin on June 02, 2005 at 2:42 PM:

Dave,

Do you speak English or American?

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claire on June 08, 2005 at 11:00 AM:

so i was at work fixing a document and had to type in the word grey/gray, and found myself suddenly befudled as to which one was correct, and didn't want to ask anybody because it seemed like a stupid question. I googled it on images like you did, and found it was spelled both ways ... and then I found this page, and I feel better and not stupid. Thanks!

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Casey on June 09, 2005 at 4:23 PM:

It's amazing to find so many postings on such a minor distinction, and even more so to find so many confrontationsl postings. To add my two bits to the confusion, I had heard that the two spellings, while both equally acceptable in "American" English, tend to be used a bit differently in American literature. In this school of thought, the "gray" spelling refers only to the color, while the "grey" spelling refers to the color as well as the other connotations of the word, such as depression, lack of excitement or choice, etc. In case you're taking count, I'm an American.

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Jens on June 15, 2005 at 6:22 AM:

Which is which? Easy:

gr_A_y is how it's spelled in _A_merica,
gr_E_y is how it's spelled in _E_ngland
(as well as _E_verywhere _E_lse).

Regards,
Jens

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Brian Young on June 23, 2005 at 9:11 AM:

I found this article very helpful, when writing website design contracts I spell it "GREY" in the color layout. Customers have actually taken time to email me the spelling error. I distinctively remember the same memory flash of the grey crayon.
Thanks

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Patrick F on June 24, 2005 at 11:40 AM:

There is no reason at all to change the spelling of grey. What did it accomplish? Clearly it just created confusion. And changing cheque to check just makes the language a little less pretty and in written form a little less clear. And what's with the letter Zee? Call it what you want, the rest of us will still call it a Zed.


Still spelling things right north of the 49th parallel,

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Anthrobus13 on June 28, 2005 at 8:21 PM:

Amazing site! It would never have occurred to me that this little difference can create soo much animosity. Either way, this site has definitely cleared it up for me.
I came across this spelling issue as a result of a Client requesting for a change in the spelling of the colour Grey to Gray, while insisting that the document should be in British English!
After explaining the situation(thanks to this site), they have decided to go with Gray, because they feel more comfortable with it, and because it was accepted by the spell checker in Microsoft Word. lol, guess you just have to go with "feeling" in the end eh?

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Dan Druk on June 29, 2005 at 12:08 AM:

Googled this post, because some person said it was grey, and I told him it was either/or.

Totally agree with Dave, that "an historic" thing has been ticking me off for years now.
(the word AN comes before a vowel sound, not vowel...'an honor' [honour] is correct, but 'an hissing' is not)
BTW, don't tell Dave to calm down, he was just responding to Bo (who should calm down :P).

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David on June 29, 2005 at 5:09 PM:

Just thought I'd point out that MS Word has no problem with the spelling 'grey' if you set the spellchecker to British English....obvious when you think about it. Opening a whole new can of worms, is the 'h' in historic silent or not? In British English it can be, and so 'an historic event' is perfectly acceptable.

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Mary Kochan on July 05, 2005 at 7:53 AM:

Bernie, thanks for this interesting page. I also got here by Googling grey gray. And I have similar spelling bee story. As a child I spent a lot of time in the Caribbean and many of my childrens books were of British origin. In a first grade spelling bee, I was disqualified by spelling the word color c-o-l-o-u-r. I just KNEW I was right I remember the trauma to this day. Lol

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Gary on July 27, 2005 at 7:30 AM:

As a designer I just found this problem. A Spell checker says its Gray not Grey. I'll stick with grey. Thanks very much.

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Hubbers on July 28, 2005 at 1:53 AM:

Brilliant resource, thanks.

As a rest-of-the-world English speaker I’ll never understand why you Americans changed so many of your spellings. It’s like we lent you our car and you painted one door green. Why?

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Leigh on July 30, 2005 at 2:12 PM:

I, too, am very picky about using correct spelling and I loved spelling bees. My 14 year old son just told me I had misspelled this color, and I told him that "I am so confused!" I always thought it was gray, and then some supply folders I received were labeled "grey," so that is what I put on my shelf (this shelf label is where my son thought I had misspelled the word). As you can imagine my world went out of control just a little at the time, but I was so busy with other things I didn't search for an answer. Now that my son was also pulled into this terrible state of affairs, I decided to google both words...and that led me here! Thank you soooo much for the clarification. For the moment anyway, I feel complete.

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Sally on August 17, 2005 at 1:50 AM:

Thank you for this much needed explanation of the two spellings. My reason for seeking an answer comes in the midst of posting a clothing item up for sale on ebay. I've always gone with the "grey" spelling, but realize close to half of all the potential buyers would miss seeing my listing if their keyword search included "gray" rather than the alternate. I suppose my best bet is to use both spellings in the title. -Thanks again.

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MJ on August 22, 2005 at 11:10 AM:

grey versus gray
colour versus color
zed versus zee
travelled versus traveled
neighbour versus neighbor
the list goes on and on..........

Why are things always changed in the USA compared to rest of the educated world? And they're still not using metric!!

A Canadian

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Brit American on September 07, 2005 at 7:50 AM:

You are all so gay for talking about this so long.

Oops sorry, gey :)

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uh oh! on September 15, 2005 at 9:20 PM:

Yeah, because you Brits don't have a lot of differences among your dialects, or anything

As for the Canadians here... you realize that the French spoken in Quebec != the French spoken in France, eh?
Differences between British English and Canadian English:
Uh oh!

And Mexican Spanish has != the Spanish spoken in Spain.

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GRÆY on October 09, 2005 at 7:38 PM:

Although my esthetic taste favors "grey," I wonder if the American "gray" was truly made up, as some suggest. I have been told that American English underwent less change from old contemporary English than British English did.
As far as the "Which is better" debate is concerned, I would have be Tolkienesk and say “grey? is simply more attractive. The e inspires a softer rendering of the word which I think does the color justice.
Another matter: notice the sentence above. See how I used both “grey? and the American “color? together? Does this combination seem unbalanced? If I use one British variant of a word should I do the same for other words like “color? and “aluminum?? Is it okay to use only the British variant of one word, grey for example, in ones writing?
Interesting subject.

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Cindi G on October 14, 2005 at 11:42 AM:

America freed itself from British rule A LONG TIME AGO, GET OVER IT!!! Good grief! Hasn't anyone ever heard of vernacular??? Doesn't this apply to written as well as oral? *singing* You say potato, and I'll say potahto, you write grEy and I'll write grAy! Hmm...doesn't have the same pizzazz in verse. LOL Seriously, your posts have brought humor to my otherwise mundane workday. I personally, as a very liberated AMERICAN, like having the FREEDOM to write grey/gray how I wish! Thank you, Bernie Zimmerman for my colorful liberation! Viva la GRAY! :0)

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Greg on November 02, 2005 at 12:55 AM:

So it's finally solved! So, it doesn't really matter. I enjoyed reading that.

"Engrish" (lol) is very tough.

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Greg on November 02, 2005 at 12:57 AM:

One of the mysteries to life and english is finally resolved. It leaves one less problem to worry about. Great story.

"Engrish" (lol) is tough.

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Dean on November 02, 2005 at 4:02 PM:

I always thought it had to do with what the word referenced.

Grey for the color/colour and Gray for hair. I've no reason as to why I did...lol. I had to look this up too because I have to write a training manual.

Personally, I've used both but prefer grey.

Glad I got this sorted out...and I think schools have an agenda with keeping the word grey/gray in the spelling bees. They want to traumitize kids for life! :-0

The english language (no matter where it's used) shouldn't be so difficult to freakin' learn.

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Ann on November 12, 2005 at 11:07 AM:

I appreciate your interest in using correct grammar and usage. In that same spirit, may I humbly point out that, in the above description, you used an incorrect grammatical form, the dangling participle: "Having a photographic memory, the image of a gray coloring crayon quickly came to mind."

In this statement, "the image" [is] "having a photographic memory," not you. You could correct this by stating something to the effect, "Having a photographic memory, I recalled the image of...," in which "I" is the [appropriate] subject. Whatever follows the participle phrase (in this case, "having a photographic memory") is the subject of the action in the phrase. Another example:"Looking into the fog, my vision was unclear." In this instance, "my vision" was doing the looking, not I. Changed to,"Looking into the fog, I couldn't see clearly," the appropriate subject, "I," is correctly placed in the sentence.

Furthermore, may I also humbly suggest that your sentence, "On its side, as is customary of most crayons, the crayon's color was written," is quite--and unnecessarily--strained and convoluted.(?) You might change it any number of ways to make it clearer, simpler, and more to the point--for example: "The name of the color was written on the side of the crayon." If you want to stress that this is often the case, then you might just say so: "As is often the case, the name of the crayon..."

But thanks very much, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the fun of figuring out grammatical and syntactical mysteries!

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Bernie Zimmermann on November 12, 2005 at 12:14 PM:

Ann, now you know why I majored in Computer Science and not English ;)

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Pearl on November 14, 2005 at 12:22 PM:

Excellently put.

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gc on November 23, 2005 at 8:09 AM:

Yeah, but try buying hair dye that "colours" your hair grey....that is, find me some gray hair dye.
Ja! Butt tri-bi-ing hare die which "colors" you're heir gray....the 'tis, fined myself sum grey hare die.

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gc on November 23, 2005 at 8:16 AM:

BTW, I think grey is Canadian and gray is American. 'Cuz when the first Yankee trader asked the first Frenchie trapper what color the mouse fur was, the irate trapper just said, "Grrrrrrr....eh?"

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Matthew Doucette on November 23, 2005 at 12:02 PM:

"Having a photographic memory, ..."

Could you write more on your "photographic memory"?

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Ryan on November 23, 2005 at 9:33 PM:

LOL @ Hubbers... I'm amazed this guy is still getting comments. I have an idea Bernie: if one of your posts has gotten more than one of the recent comments, collapse it into one "Recent comments line with a (x2) or (x3) afterwards as appropriate. That way, we can see the three most recent posts commented on, plus information about which posts are having "hot" discussions. In fact, I think I want to do this with my website now.

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Ryan on November 26, 2005 at 2:50 AM:

Just FYI, I tried doing the (x2)/(x3) thing at my website, but the SQL turned out to not be working quite right. It would count all the comments on a post where a recent comment had been made -- even if the other comments were older. The problem I was having is that the subqueries in MySQL can't use the LIMIT statement. I even upgraded to the very latest MySQL-Max-5! Of course, I could have done a little more PHP post-processing and ended up with the same thing... oh well, I like what I ended up with at any rate.

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Jelly on November 27, 2005 at 4:20 PM:

I am quite thankful to have found this web-page for gray and grey.
I have been under the impression that there is an actual color difference in grey (between black and white with warm or red undertones) and gray (between black and white with cool or blue undertones). This may have to do with the fact that the British and English see colors differently? If I had an Oxford English dictionary on hand, I would look there to see if this thread appears in the deffinitions found in it, alas, I do not.
I found this website when searching for confirmation on my assumption of a hue variance, have yet to find any.

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Jon on December 03, 2005 at 5:30 PM:

I am thinking of naming my future son "Gray." I have liked the name ever since I read the novel "The Razor's Edge" by W. Somerset Maugham. In truth, I will likely not have the courage to name him this, because it is a little too odd, and because he will have to spell it for people his entire life (as I have had to do with my first name). So I am thinking that I will instead name him "Graham," and simply call him "Gray" as a nickname.

This is why I did the Google search on "Grey Gray" which lead me to this fine discussion.

I had originally considered spelling this nickname "Grey" because this is the English spelling, and I--like many Americans--look to England as a standard of propriety and good taste. But, upon further consideration, I have decided to go with "Gray" because that is how it is spelled in the novel, and because the boy will grow up as an American.

Interestingly, I found a website that proposes that Maugham wrote the character of Gray Maturin as a metaphor for America, and its experience during the time of the novel.

http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/bodhidharma/maturin2.html

So it seems that Maugham knew back then that "Gray" is the American spelling of the word "Grey."

I just looked on the Crayola crayon website, and saw that they spell the color "Gray." I imagine the boy will get a kick out of that.

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Joe on January 02, 2006 at 12:24 AM:

Not only does it come up first searching for "gray grey" on google, it leads its own category as the suggestion: "gray grey difference" Excellent Work!!!

So please accept my congratulatory post! HOORAH!
I, personally, also favour the original over the American spelling.

Grey is a cool word. Grey. Look at it. Say it. Did 'grey' just blow your mind?

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Dave on January 02, 2006 at 5:48 AM:

Updating my posting of May 9, 2005. (Or is it written 9 May, 2005?)

I'm sure that will irritate some of the non-American English users too- the Yanks have gone and changed how to write the date.

I don't see this as being a confrontational discussion really. Spelling "changes" are important to good writers we all agree. But it does fascinate me how some people can make a change like that instantly simply by seeing a new version, perhaps even a typo, and saying "ooh, that looks better, I'll use that one now". We all grew up wherever we did, being taught and exposed to the prevailing standard of the day-(I'm 50, from upstate NY), and I will venture to say that "gray" was the standard then, and there. I'm not presuming to speak for anyone else. My opinion is in my own context of course. If you're from UK and you have used "grey" forever, hey, more power to ya. But here, I have seen a change. I see "grey" as a recent trend IN THE US and I wonder why that is. Will a sun ray soon be spelled a sun "rey"? And why not? Don't you think it looks better? Or feels better? I prey it steys the same spelling.

Brits, thanks for a great language. (In turn, you can thank your past contributors from history.) We here have certainly changed many things in it to your eternal chagrin, and not all for the better certainly. I think the idea was to simplify mainly. Not here to defend all Americanizations. May I say also that Rush Limbaugh is a stain on humanity.


(The following isn't about spelling but is another example of annoying and fickle behavior. This one is from TV land. Imagine that!)
I distinctly remember the time 20 or so years ago when I was watching the local news in Philly (BTW, may God forgive THAT regional accent-the worst-IMHO) and the reader used the word "negotiations" in a story. Only he pronounced it "nego-see-a-shuns". That perked me up hearing that, but it got even better. He then said, "That's easier to pronounce than "nego-shee-a-shuns". Stunning.

(My idea of the pre-show meeting: "Let's just change this! Right now! It'll be easier to say, and our jobs are so hard, hey, we have to sit here for almost half an hour and read from a page!")

The station from then on adopted the policy of all the newsreaders saying "nego-see-a-shuns". I deduced this because I saw and heard the new way on the air, and afterward. To this day, it probably is the prevailing pronunciation (mispronunciation!) of that word on the air. I don't want to overanalyze this right now, but really, people, it was a willful mispronunciation. I have a pretty good ear, and that one goes up my back like a bad chill.
Q. Is it now the "correct" pronunciation? After all, most news readers use it, and they have for a long time. Or is it wrong?
A. It was wrong then and it's wrong now. If you can't pronounce words, or find it too difficult, get into another line of work.
(BTW, I can't even express my feelings about "nuke-you-ler". You're kidding- right, Chief?)
(And Larry King- say "strength", not "strenth"- another arbitrary drop of a letter because it's easier- take some pride in your work.)

There are many examples of stupid and fickle behavior in language. I have yet to read anything to convince me that Americans who grew up using the American spelling should change to the British version while living here. You can of course, but have some sort of consistency and maybe even a rationale please. It's about a standard. You look so impressionable and spineless to me.

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MiXBSD on January 02, 2006 at 11:53 AM:

Wow - long comment thread!

As a British person living in Canada and working for a US-based company, I've had to adapt to the date format used on my company's servers. When it comes to spelling, not once has anyone commented on how I spell "grey" or "colour" or "rationalise". Dialectic spelling variants simply indicate the background of the author - nothing more, nothing less - there is no right or wrong.

All modern languages, such as English and its dialects, influence each other. Living in England and being subjected to Australian soap operas proved that: about a month after Neighbours first screened in the UK, I noticed a lot of people using Aussie slang, such as "barbie" (short for barbecue) or "dunny" (toilet). Now that we're in the internet age, the influences are as strong as ever. Even the French feel their language is under attack by all these newly-coined words, such as "blog".

Whether I spell it "grey" or "gray", "centre" or "center", depends on whether I've just been coding HTML or not - perhaps we should drop the spelling variants and just use "#AAAAAA" instead :)

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Stephie on January 03, 2006 at 10:53 AM:

Oh my goodness, I've been wondering the difference for ages. LOL
I googled "grey gray", and this post came up. (: Even though thats been said a couple times, I felt like repeating it. Your blog is quite interesting.

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Mike Gray on January 05, 2006 at 8:47 AM:

Some posts here have questioned, "Why the debate over such a small thing?" You probably can't imagine how much time this topic has taken in my life. Having to spell your name every time someone needs it is not uncommon because so many dialects change the spelling or pronunciation of words - not to mention silent letters. Crayola really upset me by selling their "Grey" colored crayon in America. Having to spell my name has just been an irritant to me because gray isn't hard to spell - I've tried using the response, "Like the color." with the incorrect assumption that Americans are capable of spelling the American version. If I left the US or was speaking to a foreign visitor then I wouldn't assume they would spell it the same. In my opinion, people should spell the word according to the rules of the local dialect. I agree that it would be incorrect to use the "color grey" or the "colour gray". But then, I have an interest in keeping the American spelling of gray (and color).

The kuh-guh sound of my name also leads people to drop the G in my last name - almost as annoying as the grey spelling.

I know many people have much harder problems with their names - at least you can pronounce mine in the local dialect.

Jon I know you have a similar problem with your name and you are right to consider the spelling problems for your son's name. I would probably spell it Graey or choose something else - even for a nickname which he may choose to go with over his given name.

I know my children will be faced with the same problem so I considered going with my wife's maiden name and to my astonishment, many people have a hard time spelling Dean.

-Mike Gray

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Jerome Manne on January 07, 2006 at 3:03 PM:

I found it funny when I asked a junior Marine which once's correct yesterday He looked it up on the web in his office, returned, and said grey is the correct spelling. He also stated gray doesn't show up except in names. I found that hard to believe and had to look for myself. As an immigrant I started learning "American" English from scratch and always have a hunch when Americans born here tell me something I don't agree with.
One of our most liked commandants: General Gray.

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Spelling Police on January 18, 2006 at 4:05 AM:

"... which one's correct ..."

I am American and it annoys me when Americans write: "your correct" or "where's you're car?"

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Nas on January 18, 2006 at 9:51 AM:

Gotta tell ya, i'm so happy that i'm not alone in this never ending quest for the true spelling of grey and gray!! My questions have been answered, and tonight for the first time in ages I will sleep peacefully. God Bless you heros of Gre/ay! If it were up to me you would all be knighted!

Sincerely,
Nas

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Nick on January 20, 2006 at 1:11 PM:

I found this site because I overheard someone at work asking another coworker, and before I could offer my assistance, I heard her say "I googled it" so I did the same. Very interesting discussion...

I personally prefer gray, and I believe some of the "changes" in American english are an attempt at consistency, to make it an easier language to learn. Therefore gray looks the same as other words that it rhymes with: bay, day, lay, clay, etc. Of course, this theory goes out the window when you consider the various accents of the spoken word in various parts of the world.

However, I'm really only posting here to get an insight into another problem. I've seen a few people using "loose" instead of "lose" in cases such as "If I were to lose this game..." Is this another variation between countries, or is the double O just wrong as I think it is?

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Bernie Zimmermann on January 20, 2006 at 5:06 PM:

Nick, I've seen the misuse of "loose" quite a few times as well. This isn't a variation between countries as far as I can tell. It's just a misspelling.

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Yargs on January 20, 2006 at 7:23 PM:

I've read most of the comments in this thread, and I haven't seen any mention of how the word was spelled in ancestral versions of modern English. My Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) says that "gray"/"grey" comes from the Old English word "graeg," which splits the difference rather nicely.

According to an interesting and authoritative note in the Oxford English Dictionary—which you can read ay http://lists.village.virginia.edu/lists_archive/Humanist/v16/0647.html—the spelling "gray" was championed by Samual Johnson and later English lexicographers; but in the twentieth century "grey" became the established spelling in Britain anyway. Meanwhile, in the United States, "gray" became standard perhaps a bit earlier. I have two nineteenth-century U.S. dictionaries--Webster's Academic Dictionary (1867) and Webster's Condensed Dictionary (~1897)--and both include entries for "grey" that refer readers to "gray" for the term's definitions. On the one hand, this indicates an early preference in the United States (or at least at Merriam-Webster) for "gray"; but on the other, it suggests an incomplete victory, since British spellings such as "labour" and "labelled" don't appear in those dictionaries at all.

One final note, regarding "greyhound": According to Webster's Eleventh Collegiate, the "grey" in that word has nothing to do with the color "gray"/"grey" (as you may have noticed, the dogs so designated may be black, white, tan, brown, or graeg); instead it comes from the Old English word "grig," which means something like "bitch." In fact, in Old Norse, the word "grey" does mean "bitch." I can't explain why anyone would name a breed of dogs "bitchhounds," but in any case Webster's says that the term "greyhound" dates back to "before the twelfth century."

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Ryan on January 23, 2006 at 8:22 PM:

That being said, we can at least now unerstand why the bus company so named itself...

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Captain Obvious on February 16, 2006 at 5:55 AM:

Although I feel grey is more proper (seeing as how the English invented, you know, 'English'... not the US), I'll still use gray for consistency. I use "colorize" and not "colourise". That's just my culture. My point is that I feel people should remain culture-consistent in their writings unless there is a specific reason to emphasize a difference. So if you use the English spellings of words, use it for every word, and vice versa. Otherwise you'll either look like a hypocrite, or, worse, ignorant of your own culture.

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Captain Obvious on February 16, 2006 at 6:00 AM:

Oh... Spelling Police... I believe that was a typing error, not a misspelling.

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Kely on February 19, 2006 at 6:40 PM:

I have read most of the posts on this thread. Americans don't have a problem with British people using different spellings, but Americans using British spellings are perceived as snobby. I'm from the south and even more well to do people don't want to be seen as "putting on airs." The spellings were changed in America long before we got here. Americans probably changed the spellings as an effort to be individual and show our own culture - not as a means to be obnoxious and annoy people from other countries.

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shane on February 27, 2006 at 5:44 PM:

Whereas you thought "gray" was the most prominent spelling, I thought "grey" was, and yet we're both wrong because it is pretty much a split in terms of preference.

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GoGrey on March 06, 2006 at 9:44 AM:

I gave my kid the middle name "Grey". I prefer the 'e' spelling and live in the US.

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Faiz on March 16, 2006 at 7:08 PM:

Thank you for clearing this up. This is most confusing for me as English is not my maiden language. I always thought that Gray was used in names like Robert Gray, and the term Grey was used for reffering to the colo(u)r "Grey."

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travis on March 17, 2006 at 7:29 AM:

I am an American.

I prefer the spelling grey, as you can tell from my website! I have had no influence as to which spelling is correct, I simply chose on my own that I liked grey better. Gray always seemed incorrect, even when I was young and knew no better.

In fact, when I was still young (<<10) I would always choose crayons/markers/colored pencils/etc that had grey rather than gray.

Just because this spelling may have originated in America doesn't mean it represents the views of everyone. That is just silly prejudice people! Also, I prefer the spelling color to colour because I see no need to have an extra u in there, and because English (whether in UK or US) has no formal spoken requirements on pronunciation, the extra u has no impact on the sound of the word.

I expect to have a rant about this on my website soon, so I'll stop right there.

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James on March 23, 2006 at 7:28 AM:

I have been struggling with this for many years. When I finally broke down and googled the issue to find some resolution, I now understand why there is such a controversy.

Many of my spelling choices become confused because, like the originator, I have a photographic memory. The vision of grey flannel was very clear in my head, but I kept getting wrong spelling notices when I would use it to spell the color.

I have also found that many Americans are very insecure about their way of doing things, so they believe "My way or the highway!" Some Americans view European spellings (Latin, British or French) as pretentious.

Now that I know the difference, I will continue to spell it the way I always have, but now I will not feel that I may be wrong. It is a preference, like tomato (long "a") or tomato (short "a"). Thank you for the clarification and it's good to know that I am not alone.

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Mark on April 02, 2006 at 11:11 AM:

its a freakin word....jesus haha

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Dawn on April 03, 2006 at 1:27 PM:

Interesting thread. I'm British and so spell it grey because that's correct in the UK. But it's interesting that the name is often spelt Gray here - I've no idea why that is. I use standard British spelling for everything, but must admit to having a preference for keeping the z (said zed, of course!) in words like organize. When I was at school in the 60s we used to spell a lot of words with z, but at some time over the years the z has been replaced by s. I've just been looking in a dictionary I used at school and see words such as recognize and organize, which of course we in the UK now spell as recognise and organise. I've no idea when this change took place or why.

My pet hate is the misuse of the verbs lie and lay. A hen lays eggs, a builder lays bricks, but I lie down. I do NOT lay down. This form has become increasingly common in the UK, as I believe it is in the US, but I just hate it. If anyone here has read any of the wonderful Miss Read's village books they'll know how much she hated it too. The fact that the past tense of lie is lay seems to be at the root of this confusion.

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amanda on April 04, 2006 at 10:17 AM:

sorry to break it to you, but there is no such thing as "photographic memory". individuals can have excellent memory, and even bring a picture to mind of a page of a book, etc. but not a literal "photograph" is available via human memory.

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Bernie Zimmermann on April 04, 2006 at 2:25 PM:

Amanda, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the term "bullet train" ;)

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Clayton on April 04, 2006 at 2:26 PM:

Being a Canadian and adhering to the european form of language. Grey, Colour etc..
Not to be a poo, the American who said that the word is Gray in America, let's not forget the Europeans didn't change the english language, the Americans did.

Either way is acceptable and as with many other words with duplicate spellings to change a spelling to accomodate a countries preference doesnt make both ways correct, it makes one correct and one acceptable. Remember American isn't a language, English is
(Don't mean to pick on Americans, had to defend the English language though... :o)

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Linda King on April 05, 2006 at 7:20 AM:

To: amanda (April 4, 2006) 10:17 am) from: Linda King (April 5 10:19 am) - I heard recently that everyone has a photographic memory, but not everyone has film.

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Darcy on April 24, 2006 at 5:20 PM:

Who knew??? When I posed the question to Google, I could not believe there were so many people who felt the need to know, gray or grey.

I'm a Texan...it's graaaay.

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Jenny on May 03, 2006 at 2:09 PM:

I think it's important for people to be curious about things of this nature. I have often found myself asking the same question about the words grey vs. gray. For all of you who have commented about the attitude of America and their tendency to change things just because they are Americans, what about the British? They drive on the wrong side of the road "just because they can". I once spoke with a friend of mine who is an engineer in London and works for a car company and I asked him why they did this and he said its in case they have to fend off attackers, or joust, they will have their right arm free to fight...
Unless I'm mistaken, road-side jousts are not common place anymore. Maybe American's don't change things "just because they can", but maybe they change things to make life just a bit easier. I don't say this in defence of everything we change (example: slang terms becoming common place and accepted), but in the matter of grey vs. gray, I think that if the topic ever comes up during a discussion you are having with another person, you should pick one and defend it to the end...and then next time pick the other one and do the same. Or maybe, just maybe, you should share your new found knowledge that neither are wrong and allow that person the same liberty we all share that allows us to have a our own opinion.

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Bernie Zimmermann on May 04, 2006 at 1:36 AM:

Well said, Jenny!

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Jim c on May 05, 2006 at 3:44 AM:

I am an EFL teacher in Korea and in a beginner class, gray/grey issue came up.... I spelled it with the 'e' and one my student students piped up "I think you've made a mistake there". I remembered that it was ok either way, and explained this, but maybe I should spell things funny more often: hardly anyone talks in that class unless they're given a task or directly called upon! Spontaneous communication is rare in this beginner class, but it happens... maybe next time I'll spell blue 'blua' and see what happens.

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Art on May 16, 2006 at 8:54 AM:

I just returned from getting my driver's license renewed. The otherwise nice lady said, "Do you still want to go with 'brown' as the hair color?" I said, "Well..." and she immediately typed in "gray." (Or was it grey?) Then, when typing the above incident in an email note, I didn't know which gray to use. [I thought it was grey when I was a kid. But that was way back when the sun never set on the British Empire.] So I checked my license. It says, "GRY." That's a cop-out!

Obviously, I Googled for authority and found your great little article and the discussion thread. Thanks

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Peter Lagoon on May 17, 2006 at 7:13 AM:

IRRITATING FACT: CSS is inconsistent:

Using IE6 [font style="background-color:gray"] works: grEy does not;

lightgrEy works, darkgrEy does not;

darkgrAy works, lightgrAy does not!!!!

I vote for standards, or at least consistency!

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Alex on May 17, 2006 at 8:28 AM:

To me (an American), "Grey" looks better and is how I normally spell it, but "Gray" makes more sense, as far as words looking how they are pronunced.

That's all I have to sey. Have a good dey!

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Chris on May 17, 2006 at 1:45 PM:

It seems tha Grey was changed to Gray on purpose in early 18th century America. Apparently, there was a movement to distance American English from British English and that is why many words (colour, randomise, etc) have differnent spellings for no logical reason.

Check out KPBS radio's "A Way with Words" for more detailed info

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Chris Barr on June 13, 2006 at 12:12 PM:

Before I start I better just tell you all Im English so Grey all the way!

My interest in the grey/gray issue was sparked yesterday when I was trying to trick my auntie by telling her to write down "Grey Daze". Her attempts went as follows:
Grade A's
Gray Days
Gray Daze

I'd always considered my auntie to be very good with the English language and therefore presumed I'd been spelling Grey wrong my whole life and kept quiet. Today however I began writing a song for my band called "Grey Day" and decided to Google it to check which was correct...leading me here. After reading every single post on this page (sad but hey I'm bored) I've picked out a couple of quotes I'd like to comment on:

1. "Yeah, because you Brits don't have a lot of differences among your dialects, or anything"
Ever talked to a Scouser (person from Liverpool)? It's like a different language.

2. "America freed itself from British rule A LONG TIME AGO, GET OVER IT!!!"
Fair enough but you are still using our language though and as far as Im aware you do call it English.

In my opinion theres nothing wrong with making words up, apparently Shakespeare made up over 3000 words with about 1200 of them being used in the English language today. So if you do feel like making words up, don't confuse people and call it American. Just out of interest is your dictionary called the English dictionary or the American English dictionary?

I think a website should be set up (if there already isn't one) that lists all the differences between the two languages so people can check it when a Grey/Gray issue arises. I believe that a lot of the differences between American and English are down to Americans making mistakes and when these mistakes are repeated over and over it eventually becomes part of the language. An example is this sentence is acceptable in America:
"I already walked the dog."
Where did the "have" go in that sentence... a "'ve" doesn't even have to be used.

But hey most of our media comes from the USA so Britain is undoubtedly going to start speaking American soon anyway. Sorry for the long rant :P

Chris.

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Chris Barr on June 13, 2006 at 12:34 PM:

Before I start I better just tell you all Im English so Grey all the way!

My interest in the grey/gray issue was sparked yesterday when I was trying to trick my auntie by telling her to write down "Grey Daze". Her attempts went as follows:
Grade A's
Gray Days
Gray Daze

I'd always considered my auntie to be very good with the English language and therefore presumed I'd been spelling Grey wrong my whole life and kept quiet. Today however I began writing a song for my band called "Grey Day" and decided to Google it to check which was correct...leading me here. After reading every single post on this page (sad but hey I'm bored) I've picked out a couple of quotes I'd like to comment on:

1. "Yeah, because you Brits don't have a lot of differences among your dialects, or anything"
Ever talked to a Scouser (person from Liverpool)? It's like a different language.

2. "America freed itself from British rule A LONG TIME AGO, GET OVER IT!!!"
Fair enough but you are still using our language though and as far as Im aware you do call it English.

In my opinion theres nothing wrong with making words up, apparently Shakespeare made up over 3000 words with about 1200 of them being used in the English language today. So if you do feel like making words up, don't confuse people and call it American. Just out of interest is your dictionary called the English dictionary or the American English dictionary?

I think a website should be set up (if there already isn't one) that lists all the differences between the two languages so people can check it when a Grey/Gray issue arises. I believe that a lot of the differences between American and English are down to Americans making mistakes and when these mistakes are repeated over and over it eventually becomes part of the language. An example is this sentence is acceptable in America:
"I already walked the dog."
Where did the "have" go in that sentence... a "'ve" doesn't even have to be used.

But hey most of our media comes from the USA so Britain is undoubtedly going to start speaking American soon anyway. Sorry for the long rant :P

Chris.

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Amb3r on June 17, 2006 at 8:18 AM:

I have always wondered the difference between gray and grey because I have seen the spelling of both my entire life, and I have noticed even very educated people use both words for the same meaning. When I had typed in the question "what is the difference between grey and gray" this forum is the first to be seen. I just love how this forum is from back in 2004 and people to this day are still discussing the difference between the words grey and gray, this has got to be some kind of record! Newayz thanks for the tip on the difference between the two spellings!

~Amb3r

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Joss Hickson on June 20, 2006 at 6:16 PM:

Right... crack is with this issue, it doesnt actuly matter in the grand scheme of things, BUT its one of those things that gets right on my nerves. Like the way americans call shopping centres Malls, and call autumn 'the fall', Grey is simply not spelt Gray.
I mean, fair enough use it however you want in your own country, other ppl arent subjected to it over there... but WHY is america trying to invade the world with its culture??? Its so annoying how shopping centres in england are called malls now, its like someone taking a crap on British pride. So call me stupid and petty if u like, but im gonna keep givin people death about the grEy issue cos its all part of fending off Americanisation.

Btw, Chris Barr gives it death... but not as much as tetsudo.
Joss

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Kenn on June 21, 2006 at 11:36 AM:

Joss,

Allow me to be a representative of the United States of America (America is actually the continents, from the north of Canada to the south of Chile, you guys are not starting to call shopping centers plazas now are you?). If you are so brash to point out you critique of others use of language, let me be the first to congratulate you on your mastery of your obvious sacred language:

doesnt -> doesn't
actuly -> actually
its -> it's
americans -> Americans
Malls -> malls
ppl -> people
arent -> aren't
england -> England
u -> you
im -> I'm
gonna -> going to
givin -> giving
cos -> because

FYI, many of your mistakes come directly from American English slang; i.e. gonna, givin, cos. It's fine to pick your battles, just don't look like a knuckle dragging hypocrite! One other thing, you might want to brush up on Ye Olde English in order to really keep it real.

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Joss Hickson on June 21, 2006 at 3:29 PM:

Yeah ok fair points, but in my defence I was VERY tired when I wrote that, and a little bit pissed off, so maybe I gave you more death than I should have done. Bit picky though... I mean, its not like this is a real life situation (talking on the Internet), so I tend not to bother with top quality grammar.
By the way, I wasn't having a go at America when I talked about that culture invasion (even though it really sounds like I am), its the way English people are starting to copy America by doing things like re-naming shopping centres as malls. There’s one near where I live called the St.Georges mall, which always gets to me, seeing as St.George is our patron saint.
Oh and I usually end up sounding like a knuckle dragging hypocrite in these kind of situations because I'm really bad at arguing.
So, thanks for pointing out all of my 'mistakes', but I don't need to be patronised

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Bob {or Bahb if you like} on June 22, 2006 at 11:20 AM:

A quote:
As a rest-of-the-world English speaker I'll never understand why you Americans changed so many of your spellings. It's like we lent you our car and you painted one door green. Why?

Well, actually, on 4 July 1776, we didn't actually borrow your car. We simply left your continent. (Besides, there were no "cars" yet. Maybe some buggies...) Anyway, we ditched the monarchy for a democracy and found that it was easier to do that over here than over there.

I'd wager that "colour" is not YOUR English spelling but rather an adaptation from the French. In fact I'd wager that any fairly modern word (originating in Europe) that contains silent letters is likely to be French.

The Brits don't have a patent on language. What's a lorry anyway?

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Jordan on June 23, 2006 at 6:51 AM:

There are two universally accepted languages today: English and American!

The term "American English" is actually a misnomer...the term you're looking for is "Incorrect English".

Just kidding!

But for anyone who thinks teaching Ebonics in American schools is wrong, myself included, think of how American English seems to non-Americans.

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Ed on June 27, 2006 at 11:27 AM:

Preface: I'm a Canadian, so I use grey, colour, analyse, cheque, etc. Furthermore, living in Quebec, I sometimes drag french expressions into english, such as "ameliorate" instead of "improve". (I will also never forget the time that I asked an Indian colleague for directions to her house for a dinner party, and her directions included, "...and when you reach the bifurcation in the road, proceed to the left.")

That said, since Google has been referenced so many times here, I checked Google Fight:

http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=grey&word2=gray

It seems that "gray" is the clear winner.

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greynote on June 30, 2006 at 9:10 AM:

Bob {or Bahb if you like} is right.

as i understand it, most of the 'american' spellings we get so uptight about were actually the common english spellings of the time, but over a couple of hundred years british english evolved (as it had for centuries before) to include french (and some dutch/german/spanish) spellings and words.

so american english is kind of like 'an' historical snapshot. (of course it has developed and evolved over that time too, just differently)

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Emily on August 14, 2006 at 12:48 PM:

AHA!
lol, this was driving me nuts!!
THANKS SO MUCH! :D

**

Blessed Be

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Tony M on August 17, 2006 at 2:52 AM:

Not to get bogged down in the mechanics or Polictics of linguistics...
USA vs UK

of which I can appreciate why they made the language more Phonetically accurate... it can cause confusion fi you travel a hundred miles in the UK simply from regional dialects.


The spelling Grey is a colour

the spelling Gray is a Surname...

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Ruby on August 22, 2006 at 2:23 PM:

Thanx alot know that I know this I can get some extra points on my school grade I had a feeling that,that was a trick question.Thanx again!!!

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Fiona Hanington on August 23, 2006 at 1:40 AM:

Loved reading all these comments! Most amusing.

On a different note, has anyone ever heard "artichoke" pronounced as "arti-CHARK"? Heard that one the other day.

Fiona Hanington

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Brent Wilson on August 30, 2006 at 7:13 AM:

This is quite funny..
I used to work for PPG paints we had a industrial customer refuse to accept his paint as he stated it was not what he ordered.

He orderer Gray paint and was shipped Grey paint. He refussed to accept it stating it must be a different formulation.

We pointed out that the paint was made at our facility in Canada where gray is spelled grey.

After several tests we proved to him that our Grey formulation matched his grey formulation.

When he set us a letter saying this color was acceptable a few of us joked that we should send back a letter stating:

"We have no idea what you are talking about and by the way we are still waiting on your response on the coloUr...."

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rimedragona on September 26, 2006 at 2:18 AM:

Wow. I can truthfully say that I never expected to see so many people get so riled up over such a minor subject. Honestly, what does it matter how someone spells a word? As long as you can read it and understand what was meant, the rest can go hang. ^_^

I, like many others, googled this because I didn't want to spell it incorrectly. I prefer the spelling "grey" for some things, such as "It was a grey day." For other things, I prefer "gray," as in "I painted the wall gray."

The difference to me is if there is additional meaning behind the word. The first example sentence includes the conotation of cold, blustery, cloudy, perhaps even rainy. The second one simply informs you of which color I painted the wall.

I wish people would leave Americans alone over how we choose to spell words. As some have already stated and given evidence for, the English used to spell/say words as Americans now do. In 50 or 100 years from now, it may reverse again, and then you will all be arguing with each other over why Americans spell it "grey" while the English spell it "gray." 9_9

I believe the only reason it matters to anyone is because of the influence America has in the world. If we were some backwater country with little influence, people wouldn't give a hoot how we spelled words or how we said them.

All that said, I wish we could find a different "-an/-ish/-ese" for people from the United States of America. The word American makes it sound like we represent the entirety of the two continents. ^_^;

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Katie on September 27, 2006 at 3:36 PM:

I always felt that grey is more of a yellow-grey color and gray is a pink-gray color. Not sure where I got that from.

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Don't care on September 27, 2006 at 6:26 PM:

If you feel you have to post a huge rant about a four letter word, you have too much time on your hands.

Grey/Gray

Your ass/Your face

It's all the same.

Sheesh.

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Gray Adds or is it Grey Adds on October 02, 2006 at 12:26 AM:

I was looking this up before I set up my web sight and still not sure of the correct one to use.

http://www.grayadds.com/

or

http://www.greyadds.com/

So hope people can still find me If I have both

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Mutobor on October 13, 2006 at 7:57 AM:

Privet Kamradi.Mutobor

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Kevin on October 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM:

I am an American, but have always preferred 'grey' to 'gray.' To me, gray is lighter and brighter. When the sky is completely overcast, but enough sun is filtering through to create an intense glare, that would be 'gray.' 'Grey' on the other hand is more dismal and dreary - more an embodiment of the true spirit of greyness - like a stormy sky. Some other examples are that concrete is 'gray' while castle walls are 'grey.' A vibrant, healthy senior citizen might have 'gray' hair while an unhealthy, unkempt one would have 'grey' hair.
To me 'gray' is a color, but 'grey' is a lack of color.
I may be a little too passionate about this, but I've always hated being surrounded by people using 'gray' when 'grey' would be more appropriate.

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Elspeth on October 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM:

I think that it's very interesting how uptight people get about their language. Being Canadian, I think that grey is proper yet many of my friends disagree. It's really about personal taste, and what you've grown up with. To me, gray seems very, common. Like you would find in less sophisticated talk. There is a more romantic flair to grey and maybe that's what draws me to it.
Even though we speak the same language, there are different dialects and for every person it's different. Because we Canadians live so close to America, we've grew up with "zee". Yet, out of all of my friends, I'm the only one that says "zed". Our speling and pronunciation shows who we are and what we want to tell about ourselves. I like soudning british, because I feel kinship with England, and less for America. It this a reason to be all up in arms agaisnt each other, because it's wrong to spell it grey in America? I certainly don't think so.
It's my opinion only, so I hope no one is offended by by my views on the spelling of grey versus gray.

~Elspeth.

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Alexander on October 26, 2006 at 4:32 AM:

Haha, great.
I just noticed that I use both grey and gray, but like grey a little better. I am very happy that I won't be bashed because of this :)

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RC of strangeculture on October 28, 2006 at 12:50 PM:

Thank you for your help...I was checking just now online to see what the differences were because I didn't know if I was wearing a grey polo shirt or a gray one.

I can't say I'm fond of there being two spellings...not in the slightest.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

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ORiley on October 30, 2006 at 5:28 AM:

Wow! What a load off my mind. My sister's middle name is "Grey",
I live in Virginia and my Canadian "boss", uses grey over gray. Now that
I know the difference (or non-differences) I can go on and cure world hunger and cancer. Look the sun is shining.

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Meg on October 31, 2006 at 10:38 AM:

I was very delighted to learn that there is no true difference between the spellings. I am naming my son Grey. I was wondering if the spellings meant different things before I commited to one or the other. Thank You for clarifying. I am happy to have the choice because I find Grey much more attractive than Gray(which has always looked wrong to me, but so has colour,shoppe and words spelled with s's insted of z's like realise). I'm sure my son will have to spell his name often but so does his brother who has to spell it and pronounce his name because of how it is spelled.

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Nathan Ward on November 12, 2006 at 11:43 AM:

Thanks for the explanation! It was just what I was looking for! I thought I was just confused and it had always been one way or another and I felt silly for not knowing which. I googled for some clarification and came across your description.

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Grant on November 12, 2006 at 12:38 PM:

Thank you! Thank you! Namasay, and good luck!! I am so happy today - I have been unable to sleep or work since this problem came up. God bless you! I am going to call my children Grey and Gray, 'e' if its a girl. This is the happiest day of my entire life, of which there have been a few very good ones! I am now a complete person, re-born!! You are to be thanked, carried to the top of Mt. Olympus and praised. Blessed be the peacemaker! The many years of teasing, and torment are now finally over. Appearing never agai - thanks to you! Grey - Gray - Grey. Dominus Partus. Now and forever - SOLVED! My best wishes are carried to with Godspeed -this is the most exceptional moment! Many thanks to you - blessings upon Bernie! Primo Exemplar!! TTTTHHHAAAANNNKKK YYYYOOOUUUU TTTTHHHAAANNNKKK YYYOOOUUUU !!!!! !!!!! !!!!!

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Francois on November 13, 2006 at 2:56 AM:

Hi Bernie,

I am from South Africa and Afrikaans is my home language. I am dating an English girl and we were chatting on Skype and I was typing something to her and typed the word "Gray" - It just looked wrong to me so I edited it and spelled it Grey and after I was 100% happy that this indeed looked correct I clicked on send, just to get the next message back from her and noticing that in her reply she used the word Gray.

Wanting to speak/write proper English I immediately Queried her on this and she replied she also was never sure about the correct spelling, so I googled it and here I am. Thanx for clearing it up for me - It actually caused an office wide debate. (I must be bored).

Quite a nice blog - Easy on the eyes. Now I know that you spell it - Grey!

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mauricio on November 15, 2006 at 10:23 AM:

hello:

As a spanish speaker I've found myself in the same dilema. Most words are native to Spain, yet when used in other spanish speaking country can have different meaning or pronounced slightly different without loosing their meaning. Im sure if hearing the word in discusion "Gray or Grey" pronounced by either an English or an American person you would think about the right spelling depending on the accent or phonetic sound.
That makes me think if would be easier to spell a word by listening an English than Amerian person because in the same way in Europe most of letters or a combination of them have specific phonetic sounds, but in Latinoamerica, we have given then more or other phonetic sounds bringing new ways of spelling.

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Mark Daley on November 29, 2006 at 4:19 PM:

This former spelling bee winner now sees that this is no black and white issue.

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Presto on December 05, 2006 at 12:48 PM:

I just read this entire blog. Now, not only do I have sore eyes and a headache, but I still can't spell gray.

Henceforth, I plan to alternate between spellings of "grey" and "gray" - even within the same sentence. This way I am consistently wrong while angering anyone who insists upon nit-picking over trivial spelling mistakes.

Maybe this will work:

Candian: "At aboot three o'clock the grey cement will be dry, eh?"
American: "At about three o'clock the gray cement will be dry, huh?"

Interestingly, this whole spelling ability issue has me pondering my days as a young scholar...

My high-school English teacher commented that I was "somewhat verbose" in my writing style. Regardless of the effort put forth, she rarely awarded a mark over 70% for any of my essays. Soon after our class spoke up about her seemingly rigorous marking methodologies, our beloved English teacher had a colleague of hers, a university professor, grade one of our essay assignments. She warned us in her usual sarcastic and derisive tone that we would be sorry for questioning her - especially once the graded papers were returned.

I received a grade of 90% for a paper that did not command any more than my usual efforts, with the following comment scribed neatly on the bottom of the page:

"Very impressive vocabulary for a high school student - nice work!"

When I showed her the freshly-graded paper, I asked her if she simply lost her train of thought when my sentences "ran on" past the five word mark.

I have a rather deep-seeded disdain for English teachers and how they methodically explicate otherwise enjoyable works of literary art. While revered as higher learning in most acedemic circles, I believe such pretensive analysis to be more akin to a severe case of anal retention.

But I digress...

Nice web-log though. Very informative. Nicely done. Thank you for dispelling the myths of the mysterious color/colour known as "grey/gray"!

Ah, but did you catch the IRONY there? We went from 'misspelling' all the way to 'dispelling'.

Cheers,
Presto

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Jon on December 06, 2006 at 9:30 PM:

Heh, thank you for this site, I (being American I will leave out the "Have") just won several bets (17, including my roommate, who refuses to pay), for a grand total of: US$127.25 (or EUR 95.64).
Forgive me for whichever sins you may decide have been imposed upon my soul, but I do speak "American," the official language of Illinois.
I, personally, alternate between spellings, although whenever I *think* of the word, I see it as "gray;" the spelling I use depends on whether or not I am trying to piss off my teacher, the tone of my writings, if I am writing for a joke (or a lark (in which case I use "grey," as it is somewhat more amusing than "gray," methinks)), and my general audience. I have a friend who is British and speaks with a very amusing accent, nothing like the "idol of millions" James Bond. He pronounces most of his "arr"s and "elle"s as "w"s (I don't know the phonetic spelling of "w"), he says that it is an "upper-cwass accent, that you (myself), being a woode (I think he meant "rude") membew(member) of the wower (lower)-cwass would know nothing about."
Needless to say, I took offence to his comment and trounced him soundly.
I do like the site, and thank you for providing me, albeit indirectly, with food money.

-Jon
A wower-cwass curr (can't seem to spell that the way he said it: with a "w," which I believe should be pronounced "double-vee" instead of "double-you")

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Lisa Orlando on December 12, 2006 at 2:12 PM:

Thank you, Bernie! Thank you all!

As someone who was born, and currently lives, in the USA (wordy, but avoids the offensive term "American"), I am quite slow, so I only now had the good sense to Google "grey gray." A great way to cheer up a very greay day in northern California. I always thought "grey" was correct for the colo(u)r, and Gray was for the name. Silly me. But then, I was also educated (if you can call it that) in the USA, so I have some excuse. My other excuse is that I am overly fond of English literature (American literature being an oxymoron).

Just kidding. Actually, I don't mind it at all when Brits and their Commonwealth cronies engage in a little "America bashing," since it's been one of my favo(u)rite sports for years. After all, the sun now sets quite quickly on what's left of the former Empire, and the USA is now the bastion of imperialism. Never mind that we have a Pres who can barely speak English of any kind. (Reminds me of a wonderfully eerie experience--1969, stoned spitless in Copenhagen, listening to a couple of Scots who were speaking quite quickly. I understood about one word in twenty.)

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Mars on December 28, 2006 at 1:06 AM:

Ok, first of all, thanks for helping me win a bet by clearing the whole spelling issue (and about those counted sarcastic remarks, it is an important doubt for those of us who care, if not about the language, perhaps about the grade that might be affected, or maybe some bets ;) ). I personally like grey the most.

Being born in U.S.A., raised in Mexico while attending Canadian schools, then British ones, then plunging into U.S.A. education, the colo(u)r question was bound to show up sooner or later :D (I'm not even getting started on spelling bees XD scarred for life lol).

Also, thank you people (I think there were 3) who stood by the fact that America is in fact a -omigasp- continent, not just one country (U.S.A.). So yeah, I know I'm being a pain with this, but it does bug me ^_^ Bear with me for a second.

1....

there, thanks
*bows*
Mars

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VoAnna on December 31, 2006 at 9:06 AM:

I always preferred the spelling "grey" to "gray" becuase it fit the pronunciation better. I didn't know that "gray" was the official US spelling until now.

Despite the fact that I'm American, I also prefer the British spellings. Some of them. It think it's because Colour seems a more beautiful word to me than Color. That little U packs a bit of power into the word.

What I find strange is that Americans have changed words like Colour to Color and Encyclopaedia to Encyclopedia, but left Archaeology and Devour to thrive normally.

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Darlene on January 06, 2007 at 11:12 AM:

Oh, boy what a difference. I was also curious about the spelling and found this site.......I have used both and maybe because I am a born American and moved to Canada. After a lot of years I have always wondered why the Canadians say their Z (zee) as Z (zed).....now that is ridiculous! Everything other alphabet letter is pronounce with ee on the end except the Z in Canada, why on earth would they end that particular letter with a ''d''? I know this is changing the subject of the spelling of Grey/Gray but hey, it is a spelling question, right?
Anyone know why? Would appreciate sincere thoughts on it.

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Nick Moore on January 08, 2007 at 6:14 PM:

Interesting that some people ended up deciding that "Grey" was the colour and "Gray" was the surname. They've clearly never heard of a certain Charles Grey, also known as the 1st Earl Grey.

The 2nd Earl Grey (also a Charles Grey) is generally recognised as having introduced Earl Grey tea to the United Kingdom. He is also the namesake of Grey College, Durham University, at which I currently study. Isn't it nice how these things come full circle?

Anyway, thanks for the interesting article.

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Sanjay Sarma on January 16, 2007 at 9:27 AM:

Excellent discussion. I did some further research on the online Oxford English Dictionary available to us here as MIT, and for what it is worth, here is what I discovered (per the OED).

1. As an adjective or a verb, the words "grey" and "gray" are interchangeable (and listed as both in the OED). In fact many old British English references spell the word g-r-a-y -- somewhat contrary to this discussion.

2. As a verb, the word is mostly spelled g-r-e-y (and listed exclusively that way in the OED). So you can "grey something out" but you don't usually "gray it out."

Having said all that, Old English is notoriously indisciplined in it spelling -- so to draw too strong a conclusion either way seems somewhat arbitrary, OED or not. I guess this will remain a graey area.

Two further nuances:

1. The OED lists this quotation:

"1885 Field's Chromatography iii. 38 note, The distinction between grey and gray should be carefully observed. Grey is composed only of black and white; the term gray is applied to any broken colour of a cool hue, and therefore belongs to the class of chromatic colours."

2. The word "grey" also shows up as an adjective, but spelled exclusively as g-r-e-y in references to the grey walnut.

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Kari on January 20, 2007 at 7:14 PM:

I like "grey" more than "gray", but I am American also. I only like to use "colour" instead of "color" when it's a verb. I like "color" as a noun. I honestly think a lot of Americans are slobs. Our country is 70% overweight. I think we should honestly be ashamed.

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Ewart Gouh on January 23, 2007 at 12:39 AM:

God bless any child in this world and beyond

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Mandy Aiona on February 09, 2007 at 8:58 PM:

God bless me and all around

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a on February 27, 2007 at 3:50 PM:

But to the people who say America is a continent, in Canada we use all British terms; colour, grey.....
You really can't include every country from America in this discussion.

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Robert on March 06, 2007 at 2:00 PM:

I think I'll just start spelling it "greigh".

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Azure on March 08, 2007 at 4:02 PM:

wow! what a long discussion! I'm a negative reader of your site (that is, i don't comment. not necessarily negative means bad, but rather means.. not active, like a cord without current.. although current contains both -ive & +ive signals.... ok I'll stop!
.
So, I'd like to make this discussion longer, that's all. I Liked the article which popped in the middle of scripts and web talk! since most repliers are in GREY side, I'll give GRAY a chance and cheer him up. (assuming 'gray' is a male color, which is another issue! :P )..

Do u know now why I don't comment! :) thanks buddy for the site! and congrats for winning the spelling contest! (a couple of years late congrats...!)

Suhail
Saudi Arabia KSA

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meggie on March 15, 2007 at 11:18 AM:

WAIT A MINUTE!!!! does this concept work for gray and grey wolves?
-a critical thinker

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Bill on March 16, 2007 at 6:33 AM:

Wow!
There's a place to write back at the bottom of all this! Who KNEW?

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Steve on March 23, 2007 at 5:33 AM:

I am confused. How could I chose one over the other? I am going to now use "grae" in all future spellings to avoid the "a" vs. "e" situation.

:-)

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ultimatedood on March 25, 2007 at 9:07 AM:

YAY I LIKE Gray because it is from a book called warriors. the cat is called graypaw (later its graystripe)

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Lee on April 05, 2007 at 3:11 AM:

Wow. Who knew Canadians were so bitter?

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Anton on April 07, 2007 at 8:04 AM:

Thanks a lot for the article! Iwas never sure which one was right and always thought people are spelling it wrong :)

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MJ on April 08, 2007 at 2:27 PM:

First I want to say how much fun I've had reading these posts. Thanks, Bernie!

Now, I'm USAese (or a USAan) and I like grey. It's illogical, because I normally am in favor of words looking as much as possible like they sound. There is just something about *this* word with the e that looks better. Go figure.

I agree with the person who gets irritated by people using 'your' and 'you're' interchangeably, and all the other similar mistakes that seem to be made so often these days. People either don't learn or don't care.

But what I'm REALLY on here about is probably going to make me numerous enemies. I hate the word 'Google' used as a verb. Can't anybody just say 'searched'? It's like another pet peeve of mine: 'author' used as a verb. It's just so pretentious sounding. Seems like nobody ever just writes anything anymore, they 'author' it. La-di-da.

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Nathan on April 13, 2007 at 6:58 PM:

Like so many others, I found this site through Google. I'm glad this was cleared up for me, and in spite of the disclaimer at the top, I will put my faith in it.

Oh, and to the person who had this to say about Americans:
"of course, the answer for why Americans spell it as Gray is that very reason, they are Americans, and unable to spell things the way they were spelled originally (If Grey is the British version, then it is clear that Grey is the actual original and correct spelling of it). If Americans want it to be Gray, then they can start calling themselves 'Amaricans' "

Smack-talking Americans isn't exactly the smart thing to do now, is it? You know how we can overreact.
And "mar" in "Amaricans" would sound like "marr", so maybe you should think about you're witty comment before trying to be so witty. =P
I am American, and I use the word grey. I believe "gray" users are correct, as well. I hate to bring out the nasty arguments, but you were being rather uppity, Bo.

and to all others: I don't mean to sound likea snob.

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Nathan on April 13, 2007 at 7:04 PM:

Ugh... I forgot a space between "like" and "a" and I typed what should be "your" as "you're", the exact OPPOSITE of my pet peeve.

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Michael on April 20, 2007 at 7:42 PM:

Here's another opinionated British transplant, living in Montreal, Canada. Well, when I say "opinionated", I refer only to the use of "grey" as a proper noun, as in "Earl Grey tea". I have been living here for 20 years now, and will turn a blind eye to the spelling "grAy", UNLESS IT APPEARS ON A PACKET OF TEA, which is just WRONG.

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Berry on April 24, 2007 at 1:16 PM:

Love they way you explained this (anecdote and all!)

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Amanda on April 30, 2007 at 5:31 PM:

I just sent a postcard to print that will be distributed to the public, and I had a few seconds of sheer panic at the thought that I spelled grey wrong. I am happy to see this is a grey area.

Taking a moment to reflect, I find that while relieved both spellings are considered correct, it is at the same time somewhat disconcerting. Mainly because, apparently, we Americans are the only ones to have changed this spelling, yep....taken a word and for some unknown reason changed a letter. For some, this is seen as a complete and intentional bastardization of the Queen's english. I want to know what was the reason for this change? What events led up to this? Maybe there is an interesting story or tale behind this, a romantic twist or perhaps a tryst? I am not ruling out that it could quite possibly be the result of plain ignorance or laziness.

An interesting thread of rebuttals and assertions this has become!

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Cat on May 04, 2007 at 8:31 AM:

Couldn't resist... and like some others, I never usually post anything in a blog.
The reason we changed the spelling could be because it was originally the "King's English" and, well we "Amaricans" had to make our own language back then among other things, didn't we?!

Love all the postings what a fun glimpse at everyone's (including mine today) confusion. Just imagine Bernie, this month it's going on three years of comments!!! Great job getting the world talking to each other Bernie Z.! I'll most likely check in again for a chuckle. Thanks.

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MICKEY MOUSE on May 20, 2007 at 3:10 PM:

I LOVE ORANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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charlie on May 24, 2007 at 10:27 PM:

I understand where you guys are comin' from, but in the U.S. g.r.a.y. is the color and g.r.e.y. is used as a name for a guy or a girl.

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jared on May 30, 2007 at 2:34 PM:

I had to battle it out with our partners when opening up our business, scarlet and grey gourmet (I won out) because they were adamant that it had to be grey with an a. I just remember growing up it was always with an e, somewhere along the line, it switched, but I know I can't change it.

Thanks for the explanation. Loved the grey colour/gray color.

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Paul on June 12, 2007 at 3:49 AM:

gray/grey - I've heard of this American and English version of this colo(u)r gre/ay... Is there a Desi or Latin American Version too? Like say, gruy or griy? Please help

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PixelPusher on June 12, 2007 at 12:29 PM:

I've always used grEy - but outlook just yelled at me for using the word greyscale... they changed it to grayscale (but my spell checking firefox plugin yells at both!)


Grrrrrr

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Octoberdan on June 18, 2007 at 1:47 PM:

Awesome post! Thanks for the info. Keep the grEy counters rolling!

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Hector on July 15, 2007 at 5:37 PM:

sux your site's being spammed, but it was very interesting to finally know the difference :-)

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Beckie on July 20, 2007 at 10:06 PM:

I tend to think of gray as a dark gray and grey as a light grey. Interestingly opposite to Kevin's line of thinking, and in line with the people who standardized CSS. Just adding a drop to the bucket. :) On a closing note, I hate the word blog, especially when used as a verb. ^.^

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buddyboy on July 29, 2007 at 12:02 AM:

Sey, my friend Jey is happy todey because he is coming to my house if he can find the wey, and we mey pley with cley on a gray trey.

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Ye Olde Dude on August 04, 2007 at 1:41 PM:

This is just great! Er... or is that grayt...?

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Surname - Gray on August 04, 2007 at 11:32 PM:

I've always spelled it with an "a", because that's how my last name is spelled. It really annoys me when I have to constantly be telling people, "That's Gray with an A", and even then I still get people spelling it with an "e". It's the bane of my existence, but life goes on.

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Amanda on August 21, 2007 at 8:15 PM:

I was always taught that either spelling was acceptable (in American public schools), but recently, after taking a job at a summer camp whose color war's teams were gre/ay and green, a lot of the campers chided me for my "incorrect" spelling of "gray". I generally spell it with an E, having grown up on Harry Potter and Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, and thus seeing the British spelling more often in print.

Thanks for this article. Now I can show this to all those pesky campers who made me make new signs.

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nwriter on August 28, 2007 at 5:22 AM:

I find it amazing just how passionate some people can be about language. What is disturbing is the level of intollerance towards others who's dialect may be somewhat different. English != American != Canadian etc. So what?

I use "an historic event." I spell them colour, neighbour, grey and favour. I also spell it tire, not tyre. Together, that presents evidence that I am Canadian. But in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter how I spell the words? Can you not understand me? When I read the writing of other English speaking people, I have no difficulty unless I come across words not used in my dialect. If I hadn't come across lorry before, I wouldn't know what it is. But guess what, there is a new technology out that can help: the dictionary.

In this thread, some people have displayed significant bitterness towards others merely because they spell words differently. Its their dialect. I am passionate in how I spell words when I write. I defend my spelling as it is my dialect, but I do not tell others they are incorrect if they use different spelling from me if it is correct for their dialect.

The idea that the English used in England is more proper than that used in the US is poppycock. Please dig out an original manuscript (if you happen to have one) of writing from 200 years ago or more. English is a living language. It changes. The differences between today's dialects are minor when compared to the dialects of 200+ years ago.

So who is right? Which is correct? Well, who's marking your writing? I am Canadian. I have friends in the UK, the US and Australia. I am going to university in the US. When speaking with friends or writing for business, I use the Canadian spellings of words because it is appropriate for me. When writing a paper for a class, I use the American spellings because the instructors generally expect that. I must admit, though, that I did use Canadian spellings on a paper for a class and the professor did not find fault. So, if an American professor, in a university class, can accept my Canadian spelling, why can the average Joe?

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Jim Aldridge on August 30, 2007 at 11:14 PM:

Being Canadian-born I learned the word was spelled as"grey". In the US universities I attended it was "gray."Now, as a Canadian/American dual citizen I'll spell it anyway I want to without labouring/laboring through the whole site. However, I won't give up pronouncing the word "out"as we Canadians do, rather than as we Americans do.

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Mo on September 01, 2007 at 3:35 PM:

I am truly amazed at how long this thread has been going. I guess we all arrived by googling gray/grey...ok, I googled "colour grey," so clearly I'm not American. Indeed, I'm Canadian. Anyway, I too had a story similar to the spelling bee. However it was a spelling test. The word: encylopedia. I KNEW I was right when I wrote e-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-a-e-d-i-a. It still looks funny to me, but when I spell it in my head, that's right. Of course, I got it wrong. I actually brought in our family's encyclopaedia (on of several volumes, of course) and was credited the mark. I was so happy. : )
I believe that the words are to be spelled as they were intended by those who came up with our language in the beginning, but I don't take great issue with it. However, if fellow Canadians spell things incorrectly, then I get a little upset!
i.e. colour, neighbour, labour, honour, favourite, centre, theatre...etc.
Anyway, be happy!

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Joe on September 07, 2007 at 4:26 AM:

I went to a Catholic grade school in Yardley, Pennsylvania when I was a kid. The name was Grey Nun Academy. So I would go with the Grey spelling for old times sake. lol Also like another poster mentioned there's Greyhound buses and racing dogs as well. Man I must be bored to be at this board. :)

While weare on the subject.....what's up with Canceled and Cancelled? Apparently it is correct if spelled with one or two "L's".

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Sorczlady on September 08, 2007 at 4:18 PM:

3 and a half year string over Grey/Grey....tooo damn funny!
I am Scottish...my mother tongue is ENGLISH. We have dialects, coloquialisms, and just plain BAD Grammar/Spelling.
America and Australia have adopted English as their mother tongue because most of them are English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, Scandinavian to start with...they have a couple of hundred years history behind them...we have THOUSANDS!
Let them change the spelling, use phonetics, whatever makes it easier for them to remember! GREY/GRAY??? COLOR/COLOUR?? HUMOR/HUMOUR?? Is it going to change your life??
After all..they have NUCULAR facilities....SEKETARIES of State and an inept, illiterate...can't string a coherent sentence together, "TOP DOG" with his finger on the button!

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Bernie Zimmermann on September 08, 2007 at 4:34 PM:

Hey, don't hold our President against us!

Especially not me ;)

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Hamilton on September 09, 2007 at 11:29 AM:

this is sooo gay, or gey

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Eirelin on September 18, 2007 at 11:57 AM:

What a thread.

I was doing a search on the grey vs. gray subject because I am an American medical transcriptionist and realized I personally use both versions, depending on the situation. For instance, Gandalf the Grey looks good to me; on the other hand, the brain contains white and gray matter (particularly since my text expander changes grey to greatly). There are many things I prefer about the British ways (yes, more than one) of speaking and a few about their ways of writing. But nwriter was correct. All languages evolve over time, and there is no form of spelling that can be considered definitively "the correct one." The best that can be done is to make your spelling conform to the most preferred usage in your particular location (profession, etc.)

This does not mean that all those children who cannot seem to figure out how to spell "what is" (their version: "wutz") are correct simply because its use is abundant. Words need to fall in to standard usage, both verbally and in print, before they can be accepted as correct.

Finally, regarding the "our version was first, so it is the correct one" point of view, please think of this: In the 17th century, most printed versions of the lower-case "s" was rendered as an "f." Thank goodness you don't run into that much anymore. Don't you prefer "grass" to "grafs?" Or do the angry posters (who have apparently decided that Americans are just stupid because we spell our words as we were taught--just like you) really believe that an older form of spelling is more correct than a later one? If so, then please explain to me why you do not spell the word as "grafs," when, according to that logic, you should be using the older form as it is more correct. (Please don't remind me that the "f" in place of "s" was only used in print; it is print that we are using now; therefore I do believe the point is valid enough.)

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Jebediah on September 21, 2007 at 1:30 PM:

I noticed a lot of people have invoked memories of the spelling "grey" on crayons. Yet, Crayola's website list the color as "gray". Does anyone have a crayon that actually says "grey"? Are they hiding something from us?

An example I have yet to see any Brits cite is Earl Grey tea. I guess it is not their cup.

I personally use grey and am from the Deep South. I wonder how much of the preference is regional here in the US?

BTW, the spell check here in the comments section of "Post Comments" is tagging "grey" as misspelled.

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Martin on September 24, 2007 at 7:36 AM:

Hi there, I am from continental Europe - and I was smiling about the animosities here, mostly between the "American party" and the "British (empire) party".
Actually, watching the discussion from outside the English speaking world, this looks just like any cultural specific thing, that we will find wherever we go:

Why are the British driving on the left side of the street with the gears optimized for left-handers - although most people are right-handed?

Why do the Americans still love their 110 V AC outlets, although 220 V AC are more favourable / favorable for the transport of electricity?

Well, some things need to stay because it belongs to the culture - like grey & gray. But other things could be harmonised/harmonized - and would make life sometimes much easier...and I bet that technical issues definitely do belong to the latter... Cheers!

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Sharon on October 15, 2007 at 4:22 PM:

I'm from Canada (eh?)... and I am CONSTANTLY running into this problem. We tried turning to MS Word to determine the correct spelling, however it's an American program, and in US English, it displays the 'A' spelling.
Seeing as we're neither American (a) or British (e)... this has caused much debate around the office.
I'm going to go with the fact that I take a 'u' in my colour (although not as much cream in my tea) as backup on the 'e' theory.

Anyone want to disagree? PLEASE let me know.

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Lisa on October 17, 2007 at 6:07 AM:

I am an American, but I prefer British spellings, I view them as the more correct spelling. As a freshman in high school i started instinctivly writing with u's in my colour and e's at the end of my centre. My ENGLISH teacher underlined every insance of things like this and put a large question mark over my entire paper. He thought that i had plagarized it because the spelling was not traditional American.

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Alex on October 17, 2007 at 5:28 PM:

I don't see what the big deal is. I know 'American Bashing' is so popular , but English is a living language and things change. Olde and Middle English are different than modern English. The American spelling is not particulary wrong. Oscar Wilde wrote "A Picture or Dorian GrAy" Not GrEy. And what about GrEy's anatomy? I don't see why so many Canadians and Brits are getting their "knickers in a bind or " panties in a bunch " as we Americans say. And I always thought coloUr was a French thing. And remember Shakespeare made up words too.

Dialects happen people. My french teacher in high school crirized the way Canadians spoke French, saying they didn't speak it like it was spoken in France. And I wonder if the French talk shit and nit pick the way French is spoken in Haiti,Madegascar,Angola and other countries were it's the offical language? Are Americans or are Brits just stubborn and afraid of change.
Thanks for the language (oh, and India says thank you as well).

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Peter on October 23, 2007 at 8:35 PM:

I like this site! retrovir

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james on November 05, 2007 at 11:02 PM:

i wrote "Grey" on my homework and got it wrong LOL

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Missy on November 09, 2007 at 6:03 PM:

I always spelled grey exactly that way, then in microsoft word it corrected it to gray... and that just didn't seem correct, so I continued to spell it grey. I finally remembered to google it today... and found this site and am glad I did... I can now safely spell grey the way I was taught in school!!
Thanks!!

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Bobby on November 11, 2007 at 8:29 AM:

I've always been partial to "grey." It just seems more correct.

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Amanda on November 11, 2007 at 11:05 AM:

Microsoft Works Word accepts "grey" or "gray".

I find this amusing, since Microsoft Works does not accept "falconing", "prising", "nob" (which, granted, is British slang...), and "unbridled", among others, as real words.

Despite the fact that the dictionary included in the same program defines all of the above words.

I've realized, lately, that in addition to being an American who spells it "grey", I also use the letter z much less than my fellow Americans. I can't think of a specific word right now, but I tend to replace my Zs with Ss.

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Jimmy on November 15, 2007 at 4:43 AM:

you guys are all "gay"!
I think everything was spelled correctly
:)

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Bob Marley on November 25, 2007 at 5:13 PM:

Thank you! Oh my gosh, you have just saved my life. You released the huge burden that was on my chest because I seriously was in a life or death situation wondering whether or not "grey" was spelled gray or grey.

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lynk on November 25, 2007 at 7:56 PM:

I had to google it today, because I use 'grey', and others were talking about 'gray'.. I wasnt sure if gray was correct spelling but i guess it is as well.

Being canadian though, ill think ill stick with my grey as gray just looks weird

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Kiera on November 27, 2007 at 7:11 PM:

Oh my, what a topic. I don't find offence at the use of 'grey' or 'gray' I find myself using both when I'm writing informally, though I do tend to lean towards 'grey' in my more formal writings but that's just a personal preference. Though I must agree with earlier posters that English (and any language for that matter) evolves. It follows the times and ideas of the people who speak it and changes to meet new needs. For those who are counting I am American, but on that note I think the choice of how you say words and spell them comes from where you live and grew up and from where you parents, and grandparents are from as well. For those who say Americans have 'bastardized' the English language, I would have to disagree because there are so many other cultural inputs into American besides British influence that it's only natural that they would become a part of the language, for example in parts Louisiana where there is an interesting English dialect I'd fondly call "Franglish" As I'm ranting now and getting off topic, for me 'grey' or 'gray'. It's all in where you come from.

P.S. An added note for my fellow Americans, the ever debated topic between the North and the South, is it pecans (pee-cans) or pecans (pa-cons)? Just thought I'd add a little sugar to the spice, ^_^.

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eddie on December 04, 2007 at 9:34 AM:

"grey gray Grey became the established British spelling in the 20th century, pace Dr. Johnson and others,[81] and is but a minor variant in American English, according to dictionaries. Canadians tend to prefer grey. Non-cognate greyhound is never grayhound. "


excerpt from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences#Miscellaneous_spelling_differences

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Stealthfire on December 08, 2007 at 3:25 AM:

So i didnt spell it wrong!.I feel much better now

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Stan D on December 14, 2007 at 7:38 AM:

grAy = American, grEy = English is an easy way to remember the spellings. I used to work for Cal DMV and was often confused (spelling) when filling out color of hair while doing testing. Collins Spanish dictionary has a need to distinguish between US and British spelling of english words (e.g. Spain vs Mexico usage).
Now Gray's Anatomy (book) is the reverse. Dr. Henry Gray was English. By comparison, Grey's Anatomy (the TV show) is American (they just wanted to capitalize on the well known book but refrained from using the same spelling).

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km websol web design on December 15, 2007 at 3:40 AM:

Thanks allot. my web design client stated colour grey and i thought it wasy gray. Your site just helped right. thanks.

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Scott on December 16, 2007 at 10:04 PM:

To Bernie Zimmermann & Linda King:

FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD NO FILM IN HIS PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY FOR MANY YEARS, MAYBE WE SHOULD BLAME THE REAL CUPRIT: CREYOLA CREYONS

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Scott on December 16, 2007 at 10:57 PM:

Oooops! I hit the REFRASH key by mistake. (double posting) Sorry!

After reading the comments in their entirety, I have a problem with what to call ourselves - those of us from the United States of America.

We are, yes, from North America, yet Canadians are not American? I wonder. Mexicans are, or are not, American?

People from South America are Americans too, right? (or better described as Columbians, Brazilians, etc.)

Are WE not United Statesians?

Bernie, please begin a new "blog" on this controversial subject.

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Robert on January 11, 2008 at 11:30 AM:

Thanks for a great answer and an amazing string of responses!

Although I'm an American, I use "grey" as it seems more subtle, and "greyer" than "gray" which seems so harsh.

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Nancy on January 16, 2008 at 7:29 AM:

Just had an eighth grader ask me about this. I always wonder which is correct and am happy to tell my students that either is acceptable. However, spellcheck on the copmputer shows grey as incorrect. As we all know, spellcheck is not 100% reliable . Good to learn something every day!!
Nancy

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Matt on January 21, 2008 at 5:28 PM:

Hey there,
Great article, found it using a google search!
Answered my question perfectly, thanks again.
Matt

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Dave on January 22, 2008 at 8:01 PM:

Ok grey people, check this out.

What do these words have in common?:

bay, cay, gay, hay, jay, lay, may, nay, pay, quay,
ray, say, way...

Answer- they use an a. Fey is an exception. But admit to the trend
and the general rule.
I think the obvious trend is ay, not ey.
My point is then, if you are going to use grey, then why not use
the ey spelling throughout? Because it's wrong, as is grey.

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Smitty on January 28, 2008 at 3:29 PM:

Having just faced the great gray/grey debate myself and reading through the blog entry and all the comments, thanks to you all for shedding a little gray light on the subject.

The Canadians crack me up. They claim to use Queen's English, but they don't. Instead they seem to haphazardly adopt whatever spellings they like. They use "colour" and "harbour" and "grey," but they reject "tyre" and "fulfil."

I recall a convention of comedians in NY several years ago, in which the Canadian comics were asked to come up with a Canadian equivalent of the expression "As American as apple pie."

After much thought, the comics came up with this gem:

"As Canadian as possible under the circumstances."

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Mare on January 29, 2008 at 4:37 PM:

wow
thanks so much
i always wondered about that...
it's kind of funny how all the americans i know
use grey since "gray" is an american derivation...
It's also kind of funny how I use like colour instead of color,
but i use grey instead of gray.

I remember when i was in 7th grade, I had to write a composition for art class about the colour gray, about how it's helpful to use during shading, and etc. accidentally kept on swithing back and forth from gray to grey and then back again. She told me that it's GRAY and not GREY (because the crayola crayons say GRAY)...

I guess that's why i write gray nowadays.

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Marlaina on February 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM:

Hey, all of this is poisoning me. We need better teachers these days. I love the spelling GRAY. I'm a GRAY advocate and always will be. I know it no other way. Although America has no official language. So those who like grey...okay. Cancellation/Cancelation...whateva ya waaant. Have a great, grayt or greyt day...lol

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John on February 17, 2008 at 2:01 AM:

As an Englishman living in Australia for several decades, I've become accustomed to seeing an increase in what I considered was American spelling, and put it down to the influence of American TV and movies.

I always considered the grey/gray distinction simply a matter of British versus American spelling, so I was surprised to read here that some Americans prefer to use the 'grey' spelling.

I was also greatly impressed that the entire debate took place without the abusive exchanges which normally characterise blog comments.

Nice one Bernie! You seem to attract a better class of blog comment. Keep it up.

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Nicko B on February 18, 2008 at 5:29 PM:

Very nicely written!
-Nk-

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Tessa on February 19, 2008 at 10:55 PM:

I always wondered what the difference was- and now I'm not surprised it was the Americans doing the changing. :) They made so many changes. Zed-->Zee, Colour-->Color, etc.
Interesting to know. Thanks!

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Lilium Snow on February 21, 2008 at 6:39 PM:

This was really helpful. My Microsoft Word told me I had to spell it "gray", but I always saw it as "grey". Now I know what to choose.

Thank you :3

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Lilium Snow on February 21, 2008 at 6:44 PM:

And from I remember from my Social Studies classes, I think the Americans spell it as "gray", because after they became seperated from the British and became their own country, they wanted be as different from the British as possible (or something along those lines). So they changed some of the spelling of the words, like grey -> gray, colour -> color, honour -> honor, etc.

(P.S.: I'm a Canadian, so I write it as the original British spelling. )

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Clix on February 24, 2008 at 9:21 PM:

I'm no longer proud to be an American. Now I'm proud to be an Amarican.

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Meee on February 28, 2008 at 8:11 PM:

thank you. one of my problems has been solved. There are american way and english way to spell the colour between black and white.

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Annie on March 07, 2008 at 10:37 AM:

Over the years I have often struggled with the "correct" spelling of grey/gray. I recall a reference to grey being the English spelling. I also seem to recall reading somewhere that Gray is the spelling for a person's name. This site has solved all my confusion. For some reason I grew up spelling it grey and will continue to do so.

More incredible is the fact that this site has been running for FOUR YEARS! I got so wrapped up in reading the posts - what fun.

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Peter B. on March 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM:

@Author: Thanks! I remember that 'gray' is the horrid American way simply because when I was coding CSS, I tried to set a colour to 'grey', and IE rendered it green.

@Robert: If you're going to be like that, then us Brits are revoking your privileges to speak English, and any derivative thereof. The British way is the proper way, and the Prime Minister will kick the crap out of you if you disagree. ;)

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Brandon on March 14, 2008 at 6:19 AM:

Very interesting. We are doing a genetics worksheet in my science class and the sheet spells it gray on the front and grey on the back. Thanks for clearing that up. Even though the the US version is "correctly" spelled gray, I always thought grey looked more refined.

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Patricia on March 14, 2008 at 10:10 PM:

USAers say my hair is gray.
UKers say my hair is grey.

sigh.

I say my hair is pewter with silver highlights.

Okay? er, Okey? er, Is that suitable?

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jeff on March 27, 2008 at 10:22 AM:

Great article. My wife is English and I am American, so we have a selection of words we argue over! Having lived overseas for over 20 years and counting both Brits and Americans as both friends and relatives - I think I'm relatively bilingual!

I wanted to comment on why the different spellings may have occured (especially for our Canadian friends). It is my understanding that during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, many Colonists embarked on a subtle war with the British. They did this by refusing to conform to the "British" way of doing things simply as an antagonistic ploy. The main example I have heard of this was in the use of silverware - particularly a fork and knife. Brits hold their fork in the left hand and cut with the knife in their right hand. Americans eat with the fork in the right hand and switch their fork to their left hand only when cutting (we put down our knife and resume eating with the fork in our right hand). I was told this was done to antagonize the British. My suspicion is that is why "grey" is spelled gray in the USA.

It appears the US spelling of words still antagonizes non-USAians, so it is still working. Long live GRAY!

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Lawrence on March 30, 2008 at 4:48 AM:

Thanks =D I had to do a assignment and i had to use the word grey. =P

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sabika on April 04, 2008 at 8:26 AM:

Thanks a TON!
i was charged with the spelling!
This blog makes it so much better:)

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Jessica on April 06, 2008 at 9:17 PM:

Thanks for clearing it up!
And thanks Jens.
A=America, E=England (and _E_verywhere _E_lse!)
:)
^Jessica.

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Michelle on April 11, 2008 at 4:47 PM:

Thank you for this. I too came across your website from searching gray grey on google. In Australia we have the Bristish spelling (which is slowly becoming Americanised) and I always thought it was grey, yet my browser keeps telling me I'm wrong.

I'm so happy to also find out that judgement is also a correct spelling because it was driving me nuts to constantly have to delete the 'e' when writing on websites. Now I can just ignore the little red line.

Thankyou for taking the time.

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kiran on April 11, 2008 at 9:36 PM:

No one will ever read this, but pleae stop saying "Americans can't spell". What it tells me is that "Non-Americans can't think".

We don't speak "English" we speak "American". Deal with it.

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kiran on April 11, 2008 at 9:44 PM:

Haha, I'd just like to point out the unintended irony of the last comment! Regardless, the comment still holds.

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George517 on April 18, 2008 at 9:31 AM:

WOW!! What a website, Everything from 'gray/grey' to photographic memorys ..... with no film. I got involved by a newspaper story about "Gray Wolves" being re inserted into the wild. My olde memory says the color was 'Grey'.
I also have a photographic memory but my film is so overexposed that I now have to dump core to learn any thing gnu. BTW, my old grandad said that when you come to a fork in the road, take it. ;)

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Carlos on April 23, 2008 at 4:58 AM:

Thank you very much for the clear explanations. As many others, I have found this web site very helpful. I am a Mexican living in the U.S., and I have no personal preference for either spelling. I just wanted to check the common usage of each variant, so I have decided to go with 'gray' because I live in the U.S., and my web site is intended mainly for American visitors, even though as I can see from the comments here many Americans still use and prefer 'grey.' BTW the Spanish word for this color is 'gris.'

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Alex on April 27, 2008 at 10:24 AM:

Great success!

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CD on April 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM:

Incidentally, (and this may have already been addressed, my brain got fried reading all the responses!) I tend to say "an historic" - I was taught years ago that the "h" sound in the word "historic" is silent under those circumstances.

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Cortney on May 01, 2008 at 12:26 PM:

I am now more confused than ever! I want to use Gray/Grey in the title of a business name and was confused over what was correct to use. I have decided to use Gray, just because it looks correct to me and I relate it to the color. I tend to associate Grey with a last name, middle or first name, though most of the other entries lean the other way, toward Grey. I found this site interesting, and helpful with the word cancelation/cancellation, as that was another question I've had for a while. I am however disappointed at the squabbling back and forth over the large "pond" and over the borders. I say to each his own and when in Rome...do as the Romans do! I live in South Carolina, so I am quite familiar with all the slang used here. Just in traveling between SC and Florida I found that the slang changes dramatically....
I can promise you if you stick around long enough (in either place), you'll say "ya'll" or "aight", and maybe even "yonder" just because you'd feel more confortable. I personally use these terms less than occasionally, BUT if I were invited to the White House or even just in answering the phone at work, my pronunciation would change, just because it's not appropriate. And I would go to say that if I were overseas, or across the borders, I would conform somewhat to their dialect. Nevertheless, we shouldn't pick on each other because that is what makes us unique and makes traveling worth while. The only disappointment I have had in traveling is other people's definition of SWEET TEA, nobody makes it like SC!

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Sam on May 15, 2008 at 2:10 PM:

I thought I was going crazy when Microsoft PowerPoint told me that "Grey" was not a word. I then typed in this sentance in microsoft word: "The old lady looked gray, and her clothes were grey." I thought I might have been going insane, but then I came here. Thanks a ton.

Grey sounds better, I think.

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jw on May 20, 2008 at 1:44 PM:

Languages evolve.
While searching this page for "hay", and "hey", I found the word "they" in a post decrying the spelling "grey", as well as numerous other posts.
It's not thay, it's they.
Seriously, as long as you know which are the accepted standards, you won't be made a fool.
Gray/grey/greauxeu whatever.

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Naysayer on May 20, 2008 at 2:53 PM:

Oh, I just crapped myself.

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'Tonka Tough' on May 21, 2008 at 4:18 AM:

This can all be summed up in a nutshell really.
In all English speaking countries EXCEPT for the United States of America, the correct spelling is Grey. In the US the correct spelling is Gray. As with quite a lot of words in the English language America changed them to suit themselves, as in the aforementioned example colour/color. These changes are quite numerous throughout American English vs. English.
So both of these are quite legitimate spellings, though not necessarily both correct. It's all geography really, or American English vs. English.

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David Lee on May 28, 2008 at 10:49 AM:

My mother's maiden name is Gray and as a young man I was pretty good at spelling bees but I think I would've been just as confused. I guess i'm just accustomed to identifying Gray as a family name and Grey as the colo(u)r. Thanks for sharing! blisssss~ Om Shanti

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Lona on May 28, 2008 at 11:53 AM:

Ohh...

Now I understand why the teachers didn't correct me whether I wrote "gray" or "grey" (as long as I stuck to one way of spelling throughout a text)




Thank you. Enjoyed reading it.

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alisha on May 29, 2008 at 8:02 PM:

thank yoou soo mucchh ! i have been asking so many of my friends this question & they just thought it was a stoopid question . well thanks (=

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MICHIGANDER on June 04, 2008 at 9:51 PM:

This blog was posted on May 23, 2004.
It is now June 5, 2008.
By the way...I'm still confused about the spelling of the word.
"DETROIT RED WINGS...STANLEY CUP WINNERS!"

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MICHIGANDER on June 04, 2008 at 9:54 PM:

It really is June 5th in Michigan...12:54 am

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Classified on June 09, 2008 at 2:22 PM:

This has bugged me for a few years now. I see Gray all the time but then the UK is all about grey and colour. I'm with the US version of Gray. I was looking up Gray Market vs. Grey Market when I found this site. Thanks for the tips. But after checking the top most authority on colors, My little girls box of Crayola Crayons...It's Gray not Grey :)

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Kathy on June 11, 2008 at 9:43 AM:

My (american) husbands request in school many years ago now make sense. He was told to take a forreign language, -he requested english and when denied he stated: -I speak american and need to learn english!

My self as a person with 'English' as a second language I wish they could be more consistent over all. Drives me nuts!

Thank you for this page, now I don't have to feel stupid anymore.

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BklynBorn on June 24, 2008 at 8:42 PM:

I came across this site while googling "Grey vs. Gray" in order to finish an e-mail describing my beard. Little did I know I'd be diving into a 'kettle of fish'. After reading every single post, I'm more confused than ever and still don't know how to spell the dang word.
I am very disturbed about the vitriol expressed by Everyone Elsers about us Americans. I'm sorry but I speak & spell American. I love the way the British speak. They sound so, well, proper. For this reason BBC America is in my favorites list on my TV.
When I read something originating in Great Britain, I expect to see the King's English-with all the French, German, et al influences. If it's American, I expect American. No right or wrong-just different.
If you don't like Americans, that's fine. Just return some of the billions you glad-hand from us. As far as Canada goes; well they're like the little kid next door. You have to watch over him all the while he's sticking his tongue at you.
Oh, glad-hand, that's American too.

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BL on June 29, 2008 at 4:08 PM:

You Brits are ungrateful.
We should have let you all speak German in the 1940s,
or Russian in the 1950s.

Your language is an amalgam of many others, you didn't invent anything, just evolved, as Americans evolved it further.
Give it a rest, you don't rule the world any longer.

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rizareef on July 07, 2008 at 1:33 AM:

thanks ! NOW I KNOW!


hehehe ^^

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Dave on July 07, 2008 at 1:35 PM:

WOW! 3 years later and this article is still drawing visitors! I wrote Gray in an email today, thought it was correct but the thesaurus failed to bring up anything - so i changed it to Grey and WHAM it filled up... Guess they are both correct.

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Christina on July 25, 2008 at 1:25 AM:

Ugh. Whew! Glad I know that now. Now I won't feel so worried when I spell the word. Thanks! :)

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Anne on July 28, 2008 at 2:19 PM:

Ha! We were just arguing about this spelling at work. Thank you for proving me right... there ARE 2 correct ways to spell this word! :)

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Jerry on July 29, 2008 at 11:34 AM:

Came across this through google as well searching "Grey or Gray?" Nice to know that either spelling is correct. Only problem now is that I'm working on a website where the previous designer used the spelling "Grey" and I've been using "Gray". Now I have to go back and choose one. :(

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Daniel Noll on August 01, 2008 at 7:59 AM:

Bernie - Thanks for the clarification. I've been searching for a concise explanation for branding purposes.
Cheers,
Dan

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david bandel on August 19, 2008 at 12:12 AM:

I don't believe you have a photographic memory. In fact I am pretty sure my memory, which is far from photographic, is quite a bit better than yours.

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amy zook on August 24, 2008 at 6:42 PM:

grey is my favorite color.so is gray. i have been looking for old grey coloring crayons so i can prove this to others.

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mee how remeee on September 01, 2008 at 12:28 PM:

wow. reading this was like soooo interesting and humerous at the same time. I never thought to think there would be two ways to spell grey/gray your story was great and cool. why do i think its great and cool? because i UNDERSTAND it. >.< <(-_-<) lol

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TJ on September 03, 2008 at 1:27 PM:

I read your blog and liked your little story, but I feel you are incorrect in not capitalizing E. E. Cummings name. I did a quick search on the Net, and found no reason that when someone refers to E.E. Cummings they should use lower case letters and no punctuation. Just because E.E. did it himself, is no reason why the rest of us should.
Best Regards.

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Bernie Zimmermann on September 03, 2008 at 11:14 PM:

Looks like you're right, TJ. I see it right there on Wikipedia. However, I always think of him as "e. e. cummings," so I'm fine with being off-the-mark in my original post (this feels ironically similar to the main topic at hand).

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Edgy on September 13, 2008 at 7:59 AM:

Thanks - I thought I was just being dumb for 50 years. Interesting that the Google ad accompanying this piece refers to both spellings in the same hair colour (sic!) ad.

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Ariel on September 13, 2008 at 2:29 PM:

Wow. I just found this because I googled "grey gray,"; I didn't think I'd happen upon a spelling be story just like my own! Back in the '80s I lost my city semifinals on "klutz," which I'd seen spelled clutz in books, and so that is how I gave it. We researched it later, and it turned out that while both spellings are correct in Webster Merriam, only klutz is used on the official New York Times spelling bee list. Oh well; to this day, I spell it clutz just because. :)

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Andre on September 20, 2008 at 11:47 AM:

Ariel,
While we're at it, it's "spelling bee" with two e's.
Do you have a story behind that too??? lol ;^)

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Bill on September 23, 2008 at 1:53 AM:

Simple:
grEy => E for English
grAy => A for American

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Robb on October 02, 2008 at 12:03 PM:

wow, amazing that such needless arguments can be raised from such a valid statement as "Both ways are correct"

This has touched down on so many people who are fortunate enough to stumble upon it in their search for the "correct" or in this case decorous way of spelling the word gr*y.

Although, who am I to stand between the good old ever lasting English/American contention.

Lovin it.

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Bob on October 09, 2008 at 1:27 PM:

the brits are wrong about many things but they do get it right on grey, they do get it right on grey!

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judy on October 12, 2008 at 6:26 AM:

I am also glad to find out that the correct way is grey. That is how I have always spelled that word but sometimes wonder about "gray"...It is a very grey dey here todey. haha Would that be the Canadian way as well as the British way? I am Canadian and sometimes spell things the American way. Why can't we just be one people and all spell the same!!

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jeff on October 13, 2008 at 5:07 AM:

Just thought I'd throw in my two cents. The English no longer spell things the way they did in old english. Language evolves and changes. To say the older way is the more correct way is absolutely false. If anything it is the other way around. All of you people that have insisted that since England, Australia, New Zealand, etc. all use grey it must be the more correct way are way off base. Time to catch up with the modern world and go with gray. Would you rather be a caveman or a modern human being? Change is good. Now if you want to complain about Americans not using the metric system, I'll back you up on that, but the changes in the spelling of words has been going on long enough even on your side of the pond that you'll get nowhere with me complaining about this.

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Bob on October 13, 2008 at 8:29 PM:

Touch, Jeff, touch. I would like to commend you for making some excellent points but I must call your attention to one thing. You liken those who spell "grey" with an "e" to cavemen. I think you might be a bit too harsh in your comparison. The brits, for example, seem to live in a modern society and I would even go so far as to say that they are modern human beings. I never thought I would see the day that I would stand up for them but that day has come. Now as for the peeps of Australia someone else will have to defend them.

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Kay on October 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM:

Wow, this blog was written over four years ago and yet the most recent comment was only five days ago.
I love that.
I personally spell it "grey" when I'm not thinking about it, just out of habit. If I do end up considering it though, I usually choose the most appropriate spelling for whoever will be reading it.
As a Canadian highschool student, words like grey/gray often get marked incorrectly on my papers. I find that older teachers prefer the British spelling, while younger teachers favo(u)r the American version.
Selon moi, it has to do with America's increasing involvement in Canada's affairs. Being neighbours I think that Canada has adopted America's mannerisms and spelling, even though we were founded by the Brits.
So, in Canada, BOTH spellings are correct and BOTH spellings are wrong.

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Kay on October 18, 2008 at 3:03 PM:

Also, I notice no one is debating blond/blonde.
That's what has always bothered me the most.

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Samantha on October 18, 2008 at 3:46 PM:

Wow, the internet really is an amazing thing. Grey/Gray. Obviously the age old question, like color/coulour. As a Canadian, we typically use grey/colour. I was always under the impression it was one of those North American war things: Americans say Gray, we emphatically shout GREY! As with Americans in color, we Canadians prefer to be in Coulour. But, it all really goes back to Britain doesn't it? So I guess that means we Canadians respectfully agree with the Queen, when we say "Grey is a Colour" where as Americans say "Gray is a color" in Rebellion from the Queen they once chose to seperate from.

*sigh*

As far as blonde and blond go....Blonde is feminine, Blond is masculine, unless I'm completely mistaken. In which case, I shall shut up now.

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Zahir on October 18, 2008 at 6:49 PM:

Wow! This must be the post with the longest comments so I wanna jump in too.

Glad I found this because even though I think that both spellings are correct, I also think that there's a difference for both words. I didn't know it has exactly the same meaning.

Thanks for the heads up.

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Lint Filter on October 23, 2008 at 6:02 AM:

:) Thanks!

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lolz on November 02, 2008 at 10:53 AM:

thanks sooooo much! now i wont sound like an englishman in my science fair project!!






btw i luuuuuuuv spam!

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FRITZ on November 03, 2008 at 3:01 PM:

Is it Tina Fey or Fay? Sarah Palin or Pelin?
How about green or greene?
Buses or busses?
Potato or Potatoe (never mind- thanks Dan Quayle or is it Quail?)? Hmm.

What a fricken long thread this is (timewise from initial post until now that is)! Gotta be some sort of record.

Thanks to the movie Moonstruck I know that men chase more than one woman because they fear death. Now, thanks to this thread, another answer to one of life's curious questions has been answered. Now, if someone can tell me how to lose 90 lbs before I go home to visit the parents this Christmas- I'll be all set!

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Candace Massie on November 03, 2008 at 10:57 PM:

rock on with spelling bee!! I am happy to know now that I am not the dummy I made myself to be for not knowing the correct spelling for the color of my dogs eyes. I too believed that the correct spelling to be G-R-E-Y! so thank you so much for making me feel like the champ you must have felt like upon winning that bee! You are the best!!!

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Joel K. on November 05, 2008 at 8:25 AM:

Now that the 2008 presidential election is over I can finally turn my attention to more important matters. Like this!

Grayscale is the correct spelling worldwide due to the dominance of Americans in the field of computer graphics.

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D. Stihl on November 14, 2008 at 2:49 PM:

as a software engineer (avionics) for more than 22 years, i want to thank you; i seek the objective as opposed to the subjective when dealing with these sort of queries. agree with earlier post that applauds your use of the analogy: gray = color, while grey = colour. BTW grey and colour were both red underlined by microsoft as... misspelled.

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Bearone on November 18, 2008 at 6:46 PM:

OIC.. U guys are Talking in Grey areas..It just doesn't look right, neither does cheque sounds like chee kay..My wifes Canadian and I hope she isn't watching. On the internet especially in chat all these people have came up with their own spelling using one letter words, as always langauge and spelling will evolve so go with what your familiar with and the rest of the world will just have to understand.

Brad

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Matt Gray on November 26, 2008 at 11:19 AM:

As a person with the last name "Gray", it bothers me when people use "Grey" to spell my name.

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The Js on November 28, 2008 at 3:47 PM:

Wow we were so amazed at your path of discovery ,to the conclusion of the difference between "gray and "grey". This really helped us clearing things up.

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Ackirom on December 01, 2008 at 10:53 AM:

Oooh thanks so much for sharing your experience! I read most of the comments, and like some people, I googled gray vs grey and it led me to this site.

Interesting how you say you remembered seeing the gray crayola spelled "grey". I didn't have any crayons around to check, so I emailed Crayola to ask how they label the gray crayons in the US cuz some people swore they saw it spelled grey and nearly lost spelling bees because of it. Well, they actually called back and said, they spell it g-r-a-y here in the US and g-r-e-y in Canada. So maybe... your crayons were from Canada? Haha!

I'm a one and a half generation American. Born elsewhere, but raised in the U.S. and I remember always spelling gray with an e in the Philippines but when I moved to the U.S., I learned it was spelled with an A. But it wasn't until high school when I started reading foreign literature that I started doubting the spelling of the color. But now I know and it's quite clear, thanks to your explanation. I'm in the U.S., so it's gray. Plain and simple.

Plus it looks better on paper when you're writing gray with say, clay, spray, day, jay, May... it just looks nice.

Of course, I am an American, so right or wrong, I'll spell it the way I feel like it.

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Thomas on December 01, 2008 at 12:37 PM:

I've also found myself being more partial to the spelling "grey", despite the fact that my browser highlights it with a little red line. "Blonde" is another one that I feel quite comfortable with, even though both are apparently the UK spellings, instead of the US. On the other hand, I prefer "color" and "honor", as well as "aluminum" over the British counterparts, "colour", "honour", and "aluminium". And yes, I know I'm putting my punctuation outside of the quotation marks - it's a habit I've gotten into.

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andrea on December 05, 2008 at 6:54 AM:

It's truly amusing to see how much contemplation and debate this subject can inspire. I was giving my daughter a spelling test and found "gray" and "grey" on the same list. A Google search led me here. The spelling book was obviously written by a Canadian because it includes words like Quebec and Saskatchewan. The question is, when I ask my daughter to spell "grey", how do I use it in a sentence to let her know which one I want?

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gray?gray? on December 08, 2008 at 4:58 PM:

Oh, see, that makes more sense. I was always told that the difference was that one was used as a color and the other was used as a name.

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gray?gray? on December 08, 2008 at 4:58 PM:

Oh, see, that makes more sense. I was always told that the difference was that one was used as a color and the other was used as a name.

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Mara on December 11, 2008 at 2:16 PM:

... check out this blog:
grayandgrey.blogspot.com

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Maria on December 17, 2008 at 5:46 AM:

Since two days I'm teaching kids in Thailand. I almost failed a student today because she had written gray. Then it popped into my mind that it could be American spelling. A quick google search let me here.

I can't get used to color, honor, traveling and gray.

It's colour, honour, travelling and grey.

Unfortunately our textbooks say otherwise.

Regards from an European.

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Americadian, I speak Britspainglish on December 28, 2008 at 12:09 AM:

I have a headache now.

Thanks for the clarification.

If I'm down in the dumps, would I be
grey or gray?

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Andrew on December 28, 2008 at 7:10 AM:

My comments have no basis in formal grammatical "rules"--just in observations and experience. I've found that people who use both "gray" and "grey" tend to use "gray" to describe the actual concept of the color (the mixture of black and white forms "gray") and "grey" to describe how something looks (the sky was "grey"--which could be the origin of "greyhound"). Again, I'm not saying this is correct--just my observation. Has anyone else observed this?

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Lynnesite on December 29, 2008 at 12:31 PM:

I've used "grey" to describe horse colors, specifically Arabian horses. Maybe because the antecedents of mine were mostly English imports of desert-breds. "Gray" looks funny for that use.

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Joe on December 30, 2008 at 2:15 PM:

I hav allways thot Eenglish spelling waz funny. The rulz hav many exceptions. Thus, deciding what is rite and what is rong seems a bit silly and more do to tradition than reason.

Eventually, Eenglish will morph to being more like Spanish, where the words read as they sound. And it shood. In time.

Pronunciation duz not describe why there is a "gh" in "fight", "l" in should, or the classic "i after e, except after c, or when...", etc.

Meanwhile, as an Amarican, I will spell the word "grey" becoz there is no reason to spell it "gray".

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Suzy on January 02, 2009 at 6:04 PM:

Thanks for this!

As a Canadian, I've always spelled "colour" and "honour" and "favourite" but when it came to gray/grey, I've always used both spellings. I was never quite sure which spelling was correct, but now, because of your blog post, I will use "grey".

Americans are funny people: they have their own ways of spelling things, measuring things (imperial system compared to metric) and measuring temperature.

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LM on January 03, 2009 at 9:05 PM:

Since university I have tried to remain consistent in my use of "British" spelling (ie. colour, honour, etc.), as professors do not look kindly on papers that jump between different forms of spelling. It is frustrating when I am told my my spell check that I am not correctly spelling a word just because it is not the "American" spelling. To this day, I prefer to use "British" spelling over "American" spelling. When it comes to the word "grey/gray" the letter "a" just looks wrong to me, no matter what context in which I utilize the word.

Thanks for the post!

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HAL2000 on January 06, 2009 at 4:21 PM:

Dave, saying "an historical event" is not recent. American newspeople have been saying it that way for ages, and are still taught that way. It may seem odd, but it's easier for the listener to hear the two words separately. Broadcast news is all about oversimplification. Remove most of the information to fit the time constraints, don't use nested phrases, bring the vocabulary down to a fourth-grade level, etc. (If you want to be well-informed, don't get your news from the TV!)

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Chris Lawrence on January 13, 2009 at 2:30 PM:

Thanks. Your explanation was simple and understandable! (I'm embarrassed that this has vexed me for so long). BTW - your site looks great too!

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Bernie Zimmermann on January 13, 2009 at 7:31 PM:

Thanks for the compliment, Chris.

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Salbaby on January 18, 2009 at 6:28 AM:

Wow, this blog really helped a lot of people including myself. Thank you for the clarification, have wondered about these words for a long time.

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R.J. on January 20, 2009 at 4:18 AM:

I must admit, this has always been a bit of a "grey" area for me. Thanks for simplifying it.

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charmedquark on January 21, 2009 at 12:41 PM:

In the Toledo metropolitan area there were two stone mansions on the banks of the Maumee River.

The one on the south side of the river in the town of Perrysburg, named Graystone, was razed a year ago.

The one on the north side of the river, in the town of Maumee, named "Greystone" still stands.

My point - Grey wins :)

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Amanda on January 27, 2009 at 6:07 PM:

We can probably actually thank Melville Dewey (who spelled his own name Melvil Dui) for the current american spelling of the word using an 'a' instead of an 'e'. Dewey, the same man who created the Dewey decimal system we all came to know and love as children in the school library, was a huge advocate of simplification of English spelling rules. He wanted to eliminate all unnecessary letters from english words, and his changes were adopted in many cases, such as the 'u' in color.

This quote is taken from his description of how he came up with the Dewey Decimal system, and you can see his obsession with simplified spelling:

"After months of study, while I lookt stedfastly at {the pulpit} without hearing a word, my mind absorbd in the vital problem, the solution flasht over me so that I jumpt in my seat and came very near shouting 'Eureka!'"

Luckily we did not adopt all of the changes that he proposed. :)

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Amanda on January 27, 2009 at 6:32 PM:

p.s. Dewey also advocated using the spelling that best reflected the sound of the word, not just dropping letters, so he probably would have lobbied for the use of the 'a' instead of the 'e'.

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Tracy on January 29, 2009 at 7:25 PM:

Thank you ! This has been bugging me since the third grade as well! I am sooo relieved to know the answer.
Tracy

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tankilo on February 03, 2009 at 3:08 PM:

Thanks for posting this :) I was writing an article and switching between grEy and grAy and decided "one of these must be wrong for the other to be right". Guess I'm just colourful.

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JP on February 03, 2009 at 6:41 PM:

I liked your example for explaining the difference between grey and gray. Years ago I also was in a spelling bee and my word was theater. I spelled it theatre. No teacher came to my rescue. You were lucky........JP

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Workwomans Press on February 04, 2009 at 5:10 PM:

Thanks so much, Bernie! I have just finished editing a novel in which both spellings appeared and I was at a loss to know which one should be used, or why there were two. This is so helpful. Being an American with a California author, we'll go with GRAY.

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Mark on February 06, 2009 at 6:42 AM:

It amazes me how many people are passionate about this topic. I thought I was the only one. I prefer "grey" and "colour". It would seem that, given what a messed up language US English is, there should be room for these two well rooted words.

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bunny on February 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM:

What is the difference between color and colour? please tell me.

thanks,
bunny

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Nick C on February 23, 2009 at 5:24 PM:

peace to all the people: those who spell it "gray" and those who spell it "grey". let's not let words interfere with our love for our fellow man.

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Rho on February 26, 2009 at 1:49 PM:

Love the 'colour' part!

By the way, bunny, colour is the same as color - American English drops the 'u' from the word. So in England, it's colour. Same as armor/armour and several other words.

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alex on February 26, 2009 at 5:25 PM:

I was having a problem on how to spell gray, and came across this. Now that I know both grey and gray are correct, I can get a better grade on my essay that my techer took points off for me spelling grey as gray. And I want to add that Americans can spell!! So, all you other contries need to leave US(a) alone!

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Ginger on February 28, 2009 at 1:55 AM:

Loved the comments.

I'm from Georgia, USA. I was raised by an Aunt and Uncle with the surname GRAY. So in school I spelled the color grAy. My teacher corrected me and said it is spelled grEy. I then thought that color was grEy and names were grAy. Later I learned I could spell it either way. Nowadays I tend to spell colors or moods as grey and things that I love with gray (like gray wolves or gray squirrels). GrAy tends to evoke more emotional feelings and be more colorful, cheerful, .. love. GrEy is the dark clouds, unhappy moods, or the shades of grey color.

My pet peeve is the incorrect use of other words like: there/their, your/you're, want/won't, etc.

For the guy talking about loose/lose I'd like to say this:
loose = not tight enough (sounds like loos with an 's')
lose = as in "don't lose the fight" (sounds like looz)

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JimBob on February 28, 2009 at 5:29 PM:

Fascinating to see such continued comment on a dialect differentiation which has obviously puzzled many of us. I, for one, have truly enjoyed all information and comment garnered here...............I think it is truly greyt.

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drew on March 01, 2009 at 1:34 PM:

Thanks, the "grey is a colour / gray is a color" was most helpful. Funny that this was the top hit for grey/gray on Google.
Thanks again.

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babyalpaca on March 03, 2009 at 10:06 AM:

OMG, someone (i think it was my X-boss who later got fired) pointed out that i spelled Grey incorrectly, she said Grey is for grey hair only and Gray is the color name which confuses me more....isn't grey hair and grey color are both COLOR name??? I was extremely confused as I am very good speller. She pointed out it should spelled as Gray instead of Grey. Now I feel much better and wish i put the efforts of find your site back then. I grew up in Hong Kong so I always Grey is always Grey not Gray. After reading all of your comments, it all make sense.

Thank you!!

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Monkeyboy on March 04, 2009 at 4:53 AM:

I think this is a grey / gray area.......

=D

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Evie on March 05, 2009 at 3:40 AM:

I loved this explanation. Personally, I've always loved the "grey" more than "gray" but choice is relative, isn't it? May I put a link from my blog to yours, s'il vous plait?

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Bernie Zimmermann on March 05, 2009 at 8:43 PM:

Evie, by all means feel free.

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katherine on March 06, 2009 at 7:51 PM:

I've always used grEy until my sister told me I was wrong. So then I started using grAy until my grade 4 teacher told me I was wrong. So I started using grEy again...until my friends told me grEy is only found in names (like Meredith Grey from Grey's Anatomy).

I'm sticking with grEy...

I also use: colour, axe, zed, organise, travelling, yogourt, and sometimes programme

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Cougy on March 08, 2009 at 10:09 AM:

I just use grey. It's what I find most in the books I read (then again, I read a lot of British fiction....). My friends use gray or grey, and my English teacher could care less.

You know what's funny?
grAy has an A for American
grEy has an E for English.

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Mary on March 09, 2009 at 8:36 AM:

While I don't exactly suffer from synesthesia, I am an artist and have color and taste associations with words, sounds, etc.

GREY looks more blue-tinged to me (cooler)
GRAY looks more yellow-tinged (warmer)

I prefer grey because that's what I was taught.

I was also taught 40 years ago to say "An historic event" because the H is more silent than not in that case. That's not pretension, it's education. I pronounce the H more when using History at the beginning of a sentence. If you clearly enunciate the H when you say History, "a historic event" works fine.

If you want a language set in stone, with no internal inconsistencies, don't pick English, which is dog-Latin with multiple other language influences to begin with, and always in a state of change. Resistance to change is futile.

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mike neal on March 11, 2009 at 1:42 PM:

wow, I never knew what it was like to be a loser. now I am feeling gray.

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Dan on March 14, 2009 at 8:11 AM:

Wery informative post. I was pleased to find that my wife and I were not the only ones confused. She raises Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies and there was some confusion as to whether some of the colors are Gray or Grey. I guess it depends on where the puppy goes to live.

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amelia on March 16, 2009 at 7:29 AM:

balls.

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EducatedSoldier on March 22, 2009 at 12:26 AM:

Working with Canadians, Brits, Croatians, Norwegians, Afghans, and others, in Afghanistan right now. My day job is an administrator at a middle school in the United States. Always wondered the difference and have burnt up a morning learning the truth and being entertained. Great information and feedback. Good to know we can all work together even if we don't always agree.

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alexgreygraywtf on March 22, 2009 at 4:43 AM:

HAHAHA LEGENDARY :D

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aniruddha on March 23, 2009 at 3:17 AM:

thank u so very much for clearing this
i was looking for farther/further
and from that link i came up here and this has been very enchanting
thank u once more!
cheers!!

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Bitsy on March 25, 2009 at 12:30 PM:

I just had to add a few words to keep this greyt thread going.

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James St. James on March 29, 2009 at 5:02 AM:

I am so happy this thread exists! It's a habit of mine to spell things the British way since I'm the son of an Irish man...

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JingKang on March 30, 2009 at 8:32 AM:

i love this, i have been using grey whereas my friends around me are using gray.
now i have the answer to their question on why i insisted on using grey instead of gray.
sometimes spelling just confuse me.
like color and colour.

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Shawn Oliveira on April 01, 2009 at 12:24 PM:

So glad I found this. Your Color/Colour explanation hits the mark. (BTW my browser says "colour" is spelled wrong.)

As an American I could never figure out why "gray" shows up all the time. I've always thought all these people are missing something. Oops.

As a Designer I've always preferred "grey" and I think I'll continue using it.

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Amanda on April 02, 2009 at 2:23 PM:

How awesome is it that this POST just keeps on going?

Grey/Gray....never really gave 2 thoughts about it....sometimes I like the "e" and other times, I feel in more in the mood to use the "a".....it's all same in the end!

Keep it going everyone!!

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Linsey on April 05, 2009 at 3:27 PM:

i STILL DONT GET IT is it gray or grey

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Arturo on April 06, 2009 at 3:56 AM:

As an Englishman, permit me to assert that there are really no proper ways to spell or speak English. Words and spellings come and go and grammar is discretionary. English is a flexible lingua franca that has evolved with our culture over space and time and class. The language of the North of England is different to that in the South. The English of my grandparents is alien to my children. Within modern English there are traces of the all the cultures that have assimilated here, Danish, Saxon, Norman and Roman to name a very few. The influence of countries we have invaded is also to be found, Hindi and Arabic words are in common usage. Those previous colonies where English has taken on its own evolutionary branch are now contributing back to the core and we have Australian inflections and American business terminology. Rules? I am afraid there are no rules, it is all very grey.

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dubious1 on April 06, 2009 at 6:34 PM:

Arturo - well put, the regional vernacular takes on cultural diffusion/assimilation. Grey vs. Gray is a silly debate, it is the same way in many languages that have evolved in different areas while the "home" vernacular may have differences. We are lucky enough that English is still common enough to be interoperable across borders where "English" is spoken.

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Richard on April 10, 2009 at 12:18 PM:

Now we know why it is said that English is the most difficult, of all languages,s, to learn.

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grey haired lady on April 10, 2009 at 9:37 PM:

ahah. Now I know why it's so confusing. The English language of course! And I'm Australian, and we use grey, and colour etc. For so long I've wondered at the difference........and now I know. thank you very much!

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Charles E on April 11, 2009 at 6:40 PM:

Wow, 5 years since the original question and it is still providing the much needed answer to the question. I like all others have were perplexed by the grey vs gray choice.
Thank you for clarifying.

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Kayla on April 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM:

thanks so much for wasting your time to figure out a most common question that stumps almost everyone. now i can go to my class mates and brag in their face that every one was right

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Jess on April 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM:

As you can see from the vast amount of comments that continue to arise, 5 years later, people still question grey and gray. I was at school today and wrote a note to myself to look it up because my teacher wrote gray, and I thought it was grey. I guess we were both right.

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Cheryl on April 21, 2009 at 6:54 AM:

Thanks, interesting.

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Philip on April 22, 2009 at 12:01 PM:

you have to leave room for 'Gray Area.' It can't be just black or just white. It is a blend. And so you have it Gray and Grey.

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Rubber ducks rock! on May 03, 2009 at 2:56 AM:

I never thought reading about different spellings of G-R-E-Y or G-R-AY could be so interesting! Does this mean that in Britain it is technically wrong to spell it G-R-A-Y and america it is technically wrong to spell it G-R-E-Y????

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Fuss Bucket on May 03, 2009 at 1:01 PM:

I'm a very fussy and proper speaking/spelling Americain. I use grey instead of gray. Like some one said earlier that it almost looked like "gay" which I'm in agreement on that one. I spell "color" "colour" and I spell "favorite" favourite. I am a very "British-like" so to speak, Amercicain so please don't judge me. And please don't stereo-type the rest of my country. My mother was a hill-billy and she said that it was just easier and faster to shorten words spelling and speaking. And that's probably another reason why people in the midwest can speak so fast. Trust me, the speak FAST!!!

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The Man on May 06, 2009 at 9:22 AM:

To Fuss Bucket,

For being so fussy you seem to make plenty of mistakes. You spelled American Americain, and I wondered if you were eluding to 2008's Republican Presidential candidate McCain, however you misspelled it with an additional i the second time. You forgot to put a "y" on the word "they", and you improperly used the word "a" when referring to yourself as "British-like." You also misspelled stereotype. You know, I don't really think you're that fussy at all.

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Bob on May 06, 2009 at 2:33 PM:

here's another proposal: what about words where there is a letter that is silent like the letter "l" in colonel or in wolf?

that's a mystery if you ask me...definitely part of the "grey" zone you all speak of!

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Bilingual on May 06, 2009 at 7:21 PM:

People say Americans can only speak one language, but if we start to distinguish English and American we can start calling ourselves bilingual! Get on board America!!

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David Garcia on May 07, 2009 at 7:50 AM:

Being a Canadian, i have been brought up with the British version of grey, and that is the one i have used.

I have on countless occasions gotten into fights with people that have told me i spelled "gray" incorrectly, or me telling them that they spelled "grey" incorrectly.

personally, "Gray" looks like an ugly word, and almost every time i see it spelled that way, i almost read it as "gay"

of course, the answer for why Americans spell it as Gray is that very reason, they are Americans, and unable to spell things the way they were spelled originally (If Grey is the British version, then it is clear that Grey is the actual original and correct spelling of it). If Americans want it to be Gray, then they can start calling themselves "Amaricans"



---- Its just funny how these AMERICANS claims that they have the proper ENGLISH and they speak proper ENGLISH. I am not against them (AMERICANS) but most of them really annoys me if I heard them criticize those non-perfect ENGLISH speakers. Besides, ENGLISH did not come from AMERICA. ENGLISH is from ENGLAND.. I am right guys ? =)

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Michael on May 07, 2009 at 10:14 AM:

Congratulations David Gaycia,
Your grammar is as atrocious as your bigoted point of view. This is particularly ironic given the sub of your post.

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HoneyBee on May 13, 2009 at 8:22 AM:

Finally.. an explanation... Since Microsoft Word itself doesn't help in this gra/ey matter. I've tried changing the setting from Eng. American to UK but it's the same anyway, the spelling tool would always inform me that the check is completed. I suppose the tool itself is confused LOL

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Simuser on May 13, 2009 at 10:40 AM:

Theatre or Theater? One from England, one in the US. See also Library (or the Bushism/Texan Libary! :P

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Sarah GRAY on May 19, 2009 at 3:52 PM:

My last name is Gray, which shuts down the "only names are spelled Grey" theory.

I've seen it both ways, but the "grey" version mostly comes from people I've worked with in the UK. Gray has always been the correct version for me for obvious reasons.

Yes, "gray" is probably a "made up" word....but then, didn't every word need to be made up at some point?

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Jalen Lee on May 24, 2009 at 5:30 PM:

As someone who learned English as second language, I always knew both versions are correct. All the dictionaries I had showed both spelling correct, but they never told me the origins or the usages of the words. Thanks for the info. =D

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Ron Ray on May 27, 2009 at 4:40 PM:

This issue has bothered me most of my life! (I know, I get bothered easily! :-)
I was employed as a house painter for over 35 years and painters (at least last century) mostly used the word "GREY" for the color.
Other than that, it seems the DMV uses "GREY", while Clairol uses "GRAY"....
Kind of leaves the true answer in a "greigh" area... ;-)

(BTW... MOST last names are spelled "GRAY"!)

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Trukinugly on June 09, 2009 at 5:22 AM:

I read most of the posts, through '07 I believe. I am astonished that the British folks believe their language is a pure language. In fact some of their words have Latin origins as well as many other languages I'm sure. The American English uses British English as a basis for the language we use here. We just adaped it as the British has from the original roots. Obviously the plural form of Latin "ae" is different from English "s".

I was taught Gray in the 50's and will always be a Gray fan. I was also taught Potatoe though Dan Quail and I missed the memo recinding that spelling. I had no problem with the "e" at the end that is just the way it was when I learned it. It is a shame the man was crusified for spelling it that way. It was quite acceptable where I grew up in the deep south.

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JB on June 10, 2009 at 5:42 AM:

I grew up on the midwest spelling it grey as it was on the crayons for a while and today I had to use the word again and remember that many times I have seen it gray.. To ma to, toma to... its all the say a colour and I am generally referred to by Work Executives as Ms. Colour so for me "grey" it is.

ha ha ha

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David Garcia on June 11, 2009 at 11:16 AM:

Michael on May 07, 2009 at 10:14 AM:

Congratulations David Gaycia,
Your grammar is as atrocious as your bigoted point of view. This is particularly ironic given the sub of your post.

----------

Michael, you are surely one hell of a crap! You know what I mean ? There's nothing wrong with my grammar, Its just that you don't know how to perfectly write english well. Amen! =p

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Daniele on June 15, 2009 at 8:32 PM:

Growing up in America, I find the grey/gray thing very confusing... And this finally cleared it up... Glad to know that's one word I spell right either way... Even now my iPod gives me grey and gray.
Also, David and Michael, take chill pills... This is a discussion forum... Not a 'my horse is bigger than yours' contest. Your ideas are your own, and you disagree not discredit from differences!

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William Lolly on June 16, 2009 at 7:12 AM:

...seriously? This has been going on for years here?
People are awfully militant about which spelling is right!
Why are the British so against American English spelling? We are across an ocean from each other - differences will develop in language, it's a given. You will notice that more and more you see "American English" and "UK English" differentiated.
Congrats, England - you gave birth to our language (and that in many other places across the globe). What changes are made to it aren't wrong per se, and frankly should not concern you - at least not to the point where you post "Americans are dumb"-themed posts...

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Stacey on June 16, 2009 at 6:39 PM:

Ooo. I am satisfied. :] It's relieving knowing that you can't go wrong either way!

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DEADFORWEEKS on June 18, 2009 at 1:12 PM:

Understood, but then again, what the fuck is a "greyscale"? It's obviously grayscale, isn't it?

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RationalRabbit on June 20, 2009 at 3:18 PM:

Holy shit! This just goes on and on! I've just spent way too much time of a busy day reading comments here. It was so amusing. Thank you folks!

Just a bit of history for those interested. There can be many reasons for differences in spelling over time and geography, cultural mixing etc. etc. However, the differences between U.S. and British spellings, for the most part is quite easy to follow.

In the early days of this country, where things were a little less rigid than in Merry Olde England, spellings were often influenced by local interpretations. The world was just a little less globally minded in those days and there was a certain amount of pride in this country in being out from under the weight of British Rule.

So, When Noah Webster, a great proponent of "simplified" spelling, came along in 1828 with the first recognized "American" dictionary, some changes occured - although not as many as he would have liked. One of those reforms was dropping some of the French influence from several words (such as "colour". "rumour". etc.) Other changes simply happened through common usage.

For those who get their rocks off on "right" and "wrong" debates, languages evolve and are influenced by many factors. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but there is no English language, or spelling written in stone. The spelling of some, more original, English has been retained in the states while, over time, being changed in England.

In these days of global communication, where English is fast becoming a common language, an international standard would probably be a good idea, but is not too likely to happen. This will probably result in a breakdown of a rigidity that has blanketed the spelling of words for some time - most particularly the past couple of centuries. Perhaps we just neeed to loosen up a little!

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Arturo on June 23, 2009 at 5:01 AM:

There seems to be a tension in the comments between the personality types described by the Myers Briggs Personality Type indicator for judging and perceiving. On one hand judgers who prefer structure, rules, classifications and early decisions. On the other hand are perceivers who prefer to observe and analyse phenomena and are reluctant to reach conclusions, let alone decisions. Neither is better, both are equally important to human cultural development.

I am a strong perceiver and therefore I tend to be ambivalent about how gray/grey is spelt. If we were all like me then we would never have got to the moon. However, if there were all judgers we would never have learnt to make fire :)

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JRQ on June 26, 2009 at 9:58 AM:

Who still speaks English, anyways?

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MadBob on June 30, 2009 at 6:13 AM:

I feel I should thank the Americans for simplifying the word Grey by spelling it Gray :)

I have no problem with time changing a language or spelling, languages are fluid, however is it only me that sees it as rather ungrateful that the Americans decided to eradicate all the French influences from their spellings :D

After all was it not with their help that you became One Nation ....

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sowhat? on July 02, 2009 at 8:17 PM:

I am a teacher in the US and I have always wondered about the "correct" spelling of the word. Thank you for the answer. I will tell my students that in my class, either way is perfectly correct. It was very interesting (and at the same time a bit disturbing) to read all of these comments. The changes that were made to the spellings of many English words were made LONG ago. Americans do not consider it an act of defiance to spell words differently. Most of us are too busy to even consider it at all! We are not trying to annoy or offend anyone. HONESTLY! We were taught to spell "color" without the letter "u." So what? In the classroom, I encourage my students to embrace the cultural and linguistic differences that exist in the world. I would hope that others would teach their children to do the same.

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Byron Gates Jr on July 04, 2009 at 6:53 AM:

I had it explained to me as Gray is typically used when making reference to color, Grey is used when referring to mood. And with that said, I doubt that this accurate. I use gray for all uses and believe that grey is the euro/English version.

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Hey19 on July 13, 2009 at 7:51 AM:

I didnt read all these posts, and I assume someone has mentioned this, but just in case... I have always thought of it as a way that the US has asserted it's independence from the UK. I would think all these slight spelling differences all came around the same time, color, organize etc. I would love to hear more about it, and would love it more if it occured at some point in history, such as the Tea party etc. That AUD, NZD, ZAR etc all still use the UK conventions simply belies their reliance on the UK to this day, or maybe the US just already claimed the alternative spellings, and it would be more awkward for them to switch to the US spellings. I would think some of the nations that had more recent wars w the Brits would have more reason to show their anti UK sentiments through similar revolutions. Globalization and Information technology has slowed (or at least changed) the evolution of languages - I would like to learn more about this also.

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gunmetalgray on July 24, 2009 at 1:24 PM:

Here is the exact wording in Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage:

gray, grey Both spellings are correct and common. In American English, the preference is for gray, but grey is also widley used. The British have a very definite preference for grey.

So saying a specific nation is spelling it wrong, is like saying "Bunnies hop this way, so therefore kangaroos are doing it wrong."

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gunmetalgray on July 24, 2009 at 1:27 PM:

Here is the exact wording in Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage:

gray, grey Both spellings are correct and common. In American English, the preference is for gray, but grey is also widley used. The British have a very definite preference for grey.

So saying a specific nation is spelling it wrong, is like saying "Bunnies hop this way, so therefore kangaroos are doing it wrong."

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Deana Kendall on July 30, 2009 at 11:40 PM:

I have wondered this for a very long time and just now thought to google it! I am so glad people make websites like this for people like me who sit around on her days off and wonder things like the difference between grey and gray! Thanks so much

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Duftopia on August 05, 2009 at 9:15 AM:

I actually went years without knowing the difference and assumed that one was a color adjactive only to be applied to innanimate objects and the other could be used as a noun and applied to human beings (thats not the only word in the english language that has this odd circumstance)

ex: The color (coulour) of that tie is Gray, the car is gray.
In his old age tom became grey, hist hair is grey

So I did what every semi-intelligent geek does when in doubt - they let the spell checked choose. Oddly enough your choice of spell checker (when it does have a choice) also is a throw up.

Now comes my final comment. The fact that I wrote a WHOLE entry on this subject and could probably write a thesis proves that I have no life and that GREY (or gray) will be where I will be going soon if I don't blow my brains out first!.

Duftopia

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JFT on August 09, 2009 at 2:53 PM:

To JRQ

Re: "Who still speaks English, anyways?"

LOL. You make your point. You should have said "anyway" not "anyways".

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steven on August 11, 2009 at 1:48 PM:

I LIKE USING GREY AND COLOUR better. it looks better too xP

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Emily on August 11, 2009 at 3:12 PM:

We all think one way is right until we see a different spelling and it confuses us. I was confused so I googled it. I still am. My brain just exploded from all the words that have alternate spellings.

Who thinks we should create a new language and stop this insanity?

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melinagrey on August 12, 2009 at 7:14 PM:

You guys make me laugh! Reading all this has really made my day and put me in a great mood! Thanks.

I needed that! :)

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Linga on August 14, 2009 at 5:49 AM:

Language is not a static thing.
Let it evolve and e-volve!

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Linda C Dumas on August 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM:

I think when I was little I must have been remembering a time that I was British in a previous life, because my natural tendency was to spell colour, honour, and so forth in the British way. My family also said "lib'ry". I did read lots of British books growing up, but who knows? If you want a really interesting discussion on common expressions as well as British vs American language, get ORIGINS OF THE SPECIOUS. She writes very amusingly, and addresses some of the British as being back formations.

I've always wondered about Crape Myrtle and Crepe Paper. Some say they are interchangeable, but I grew up in Alabama and it was mostly written as CRAPE.

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Gloria on August 31, 2009 at 9:30 PM:

So if it is used as a name, is it Mr. Grey or Mr. Gray or does it really matter?

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Philippe in Europe on September 09, 2009 at 10:02 AM:

I've never seen grey spelled with an "a" before I encountered a problem programming in in Matlab. For some reason strange reason I only got error-messages when typing for colourmap grey. Turned out Matlab uses the spellingversion gray...
Looks really odd but then again, it's all what you are used to.

Cheers

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Sam on September 10, 2009 at 2:19 AM:

Phillippe, you could always just use #6E6A6B as the correct spelling in hypertext mark-up language. LOL!

Thanks for this clarification; I'm happily recontextualized.

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S on September 10, 2009 at 10:07 AM:

It is 2009 September as I post thi. This issue seems to be still hot! The reason it bothers me is that in situations like my previous workplace wherein one is judged on spelling and other details, it is very disheartening that the spellings chaged! I was very good at English, British English in my Indian school and was hurt and confused when I would be charaded for wrong spellings! I painstakingly leant the spellings of 'colour', 'realize' etc and suddenly they are 'wrong spellings'. Sometimes it is not just a matter of personal choice to use what one likes. I am adapting to the new words and spellings and do feel that in some cases, like in 'color', the new spellings may be more phonetic. However, sometimes the meanings,context and clarity get seriously altered with American English.
I did also post for one other opinion. I am all for change in general and for individual expression. But we live in a globalized and social world. For those who say that it is a matter of personal taste alone, I beg your pardon! Firstly, many of us from the non-USA countries are being coerced to learn te new spellings because of the dominance of America in many ways including the softwares like Microsoft, which have spelling checks.
Secondly, and this is a point I would like to emphasize, it does not really mean 'freedom' to speak as one wishes! One speaks to communicate. If one wants to be understood, it is better to use the 'correct', however that may be defined use of word. Sometimes, grammar and spelling rules have a purpose, which is to assist people in communicating better with each other and prevent misunderstandings. It is quite disruptive that, unlike a slower evlution of languages, some one suddenly decided to change the meaning/ spelling of many words and calls it correct English while the rest of the world has trained itself in a way agreed upon by many and with clearly defined rules of grammar. Why change something so fast for a less clear term? I am all for British English and for a more inclusive and slow evolution of languages. But alas, I am not sure if my 'British English' would be accepted without judging my capabilities and competence due to the new 'American Standards'!
In one sentence, this issue is not trivial. It is quite important. How would you judge a CV with ls of 'spelling errors on it?
I rest my case.

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W. Craig Lannin on September 13, 2009 at 2:54 PM:

"My name is Francis Sawyer, but everyone calls me Psycho.....if any of you guys call me Francis, I'll kill ya.....furthermore, if any of you guys spell gray as g-r-e-y, I'll kill ya" ( paraphrased [oh-oh, is that allowed?] from the immortal "Stripes")

Right on (My bad, I guess "right on" is improper; perhaps if I had said "spot on"?!), Arturo (4-6-09, uh, i mean 6/4/09)! Kudos also to Alex (10-17-07), nwriter (9-28-07), and Eirelin (9-18-07).

Language is a living thing. It evolves over time, in a process not unlike natural selection. Harping over variations in the spelling of gray/grey, color/colour, etc. is just silly! With a lexicon as vast as English, is it reasonable to think that there will be no regional variations in the spelling, or for that matter the meaning in context, of a few words? For those in England, has English there not changed over time? Are all spellings as they were at the time of Chaucer? Is there no room for google, spam, emo, barf, texting, telly (BTW, shouldn't that be "tele"? lol), ginormous, newb(ie), funk (you didn't think I was going to go there, did you?), and the list goes on and on....?

So in the words of the legendary Sgt. Hulka: "Lighten up, Francis!"

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W. Craig Lannin on September 13, 2009 at 6:59 PM:

"My name is Francis Sawyer, but everyone calls me Psycho.....if any of you guys call me Francis, I'll kill ya.....furthermore, if any of you guys spell gray as g-r-e-y, I'll kill ya" ( paraphrased [oh-oh, is that allowed?] from the immortal "Stripes")

Right on (My bad, I guess "right on" is improper; perhaps if I had said "spot on"?!), Arturo (4-6-09, uh, i mean 6/4/09)! Kudos also to Alex (10-17-07), nwriter (9-28-07), and Eirelin (9-18-07).

Language is a living thing. It evolves over time, in a process not unlike natural selection. Harping over variations in the spelling of gray/grey, color/colour, etc. is just silly! With a lexicon as vast as English, is it reasonable to think that there will be no regional variations in the spelling, or for that matter the meaning in context, of a few words? For those in England, has English there not changed over time? Are all spellings as they were at the time of Chaucer? Is there no room for google, spam, emo, barf, texting, telly (BTW, shouldn't that be "tele"? lol), ginormous, newb(ie), funk (you didn't think I was going to go there, did you?), and the list goes on and on....?

So in the words of the legendary Sgt. Hulka: "Lighten up, Francis!"

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cddas on September 14, 2009 at 11:18 PM:

OH MY GOD THIS WAS SOOOOOOOOOOO HELPFUL!!!!
DFKJFDLF:DSJFAS YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!!! I CAN DIE NOW.

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cockmaster gray on September 19, 2009 at 10:57 PM:

ur all gay,,,sorry....gey four talkin bout this so long....language changes to the point that now english includes numbers in its letters...4 real

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Richard S on September 23, 2009 at 12:05 PM:

Being schooled in the British spelling, I am often hung up between spellings and, God-forbid, pronounciations of variuos words. It took me forever to drop Theatre for Theater, for example, although it seems to be widely accepted. "TIRE" for "TYRE" was an easy one to let go. What surprises me is the use of "GAGE" on GMC cars for "GAUGE".

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Kay P. Cotter on September 24, 2009 at 10:40 AM:

Noah Webster. 18th Century. Gray.

No "Amaricans" involved; just one fine and influential American patriot.

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Angelos on September 24, 2009 at 11:56 AM:

Both spellings are correct, in the sense that both are regularly used by tens of millions of educated native speakers of English.
According to Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English usage,"In Great Britain the form 'grey' is the more frequent in use, notwithstanding the authority of Johnson and later English lexicographers, who have all given preference to 'gray'". In other words, even in England 'grey' is not the ONLY admissible spelling, and 'gray' is NOT an American innovation, but rather a perpetuation of 18th-century English usage.
As for "greyhound", which, as far as I know, is never spelt any other way, the same Fowler states that "it is known to be unconnected with 'grey', though the meaning of its first part is doubtful."

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Thea Booker on September 28, 2009 at 11:58 PM:

It's great that so many people have so much to say on a topic I have been debating with my husband & a few friends. I too am happy to tell everyone that we are all correct...tamato/ tamato~

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Lexi on October 01, 2009 at 10:08 AM:

I really enjoyed this post! I had the same spelling issue in middle school. My english teacher marked the word "colour" wrong about a million times in a report that I had done. Only to be proven wrong by me, her 7th/8th grade student at the time... I pulled up the articles and such that I had gotten the word out of and completely baffled her. I went from almost completely failing the paper to passing with more than flying colors!! I was very excited! :) THANKS AGAIN!

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Grey or Gray on October 08, 2009 at 1:03 PM:

I read that according to a survey conducted both in the U.S. and England, many people believe grey is an actual color perceived as the hue of "silver", and gray is a sliding scale of values from black to white. This was believed in both reasons so it appears that aside from grammatical reasoning there is a connotative attitude toward the two animals. Will this beast ever be tamed?

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gray hoodies are hawt (: on October 08, 2009 at 4:03 PM:

omg you are a lifesaver! me and my sisters got in a dispute over this last night and i was so sure that u spell it like "gray" but they said no it "grey" thank you sooooo much (:

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Jackie on October 09, 2009 at 3:01 PM:

balls! balls!

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EnglishIsStoopid on October 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM:

i'm glad to see a post like this still running strong after five years. the many instances of english duality/stupidity shall never cease to unnecessarily confuse the masses.

we can only hope that the language is someday buried, for the sake of our children's children

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Albedo Gray Fox on October 13, 2009 at 7:49 PM:

Okay, now I know there's no need to break into a sweat over this one. I got my name right, spelled it rightly, and could not have spelled it wrong if I'd used the e.

Which I had been sweating over for half the night. Thank you!

Gray Fox may not be my proper surname. But I'd want to spell it right none the less.

Wonderful thread you have here.
And thank you.

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Ernst on October 22, 2009 at 4:23 PM:

I like spelling it grey because that way if I miss typing the R, it doesn't come out being gay.

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cec on October 26, 2009 at 10:21 PM:

Helpful? YES! I will continue to spell it grAy. Thanks for the interesting posts and this proud American realizes why the USA is home!!!

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troy on October 27, 2009 at 12:44 AM:

i can't believe you misspelled colour so many times in your article :-P

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Dracular on October 27, 2009 at 6:45 PM:

interesting post, but a little oudated? 5 years ago haha
anyway, give my site a visit for more blogs!

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Ruthie on October 28, 2009 at 9:05 PM:

I personally like "grey". I think it looks cooler and more poetic.

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Brad on November 01, 2009 at 4:21 AM:

Ha ha!!! Many years later and this blog is still serving a purpose. I was working a clients design and that question just came up (grey or gray?). Your blog and all the comments have been extremely helpful. Printing a document internationally, we'd go with grey because it seems to be the most popular spelling in English speaking countries world wide. Does anyone else find that to be true?

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Ralph on November 05, 2009 at 11:54 AM:

As a technical writer, I come across these things all the time. When I am annoyed at MS-Word default US spell checker, I go with gray and color. However, when I put my Canadian hat on, I change the spell checker to English (CAN) (which is based on UK/Rest of Word English) and MAKE Word accept grey and colour that way. Being in the radiation instrumentation business, I agree that if the word Gray as it relates to dose (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Harold_Gray), then the best, for me, is to use grey as the coloUr and Gray as the SI unit.

Bottom line is my preference is the original spelling (UK) since English was started there...

This is just like the metric versus imperial issue. The whole world uses metric except the US and old timers in Canada and some other English-speaking countries. However, the scientific world in the US is switching to metric as the new generations start taking control.

Good luck everyone!

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Arnold A on November 06, 2009 at 5:25 AM:

It's a language thing.
If your Educational System was influenced by the American , you use GRAY.
If British, you use GREY.

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Gary Goodlund on November 07, 2009 at 1:56 PM:

I just ran a Google search for this "grey vs gray" on a whim... holy crap! There are a lot of people out there with way too much time on their hands if they can expend this much energy on this. I guess that's OK; I'll take my amusement where I can find it. ;^)

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kelly on November 09, 2009 at 8:24 AM:

This article was very helpful as I feel I run into this "grey/gray" area often!

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ken blystone on November 09, 2009 at 9:02 AM:

There is a new way to spell gray/grey that is more functional than those spelling that are hooked on phonics. The new spelling is: #808080

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T on November 13, 2009 at 9:01 AM:

Actually, the reason that some of the "American" English words are different from "European" English words, is because around 1783, when this country was declaring its independance from Brittain and beginning to create its own "idendity", Noah Webster, a school teacher at the time, believed that " as an independant nation, our honor requiers us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government". In his American Spelling Book(1783) he rejected conventions from England that appeared to be affections. Words such as "colour" and "labour" lost their silent "u", "theatre" became "theater", and "plough" was shortened to "plow". And in 1828, Webster produced "An Amercan Dictionary of the English Language", which incorporated 5,000 new words, many reflecting Indian terms and nature in America. - this information came straight from my History book!

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Morgan on November 19, 2009 at 11:42 AM:

wow...

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William on November 24, 2009 at 12:46 AM:

What a great discussion. Perhaps we should all learn Latin or Esperanto to solve the dilemma. As for what to call people from the USA may I suggest that from now on it should be Americ-ian in the vein Canad-ian. That should soothe all the other inhaibtants of all the Americas (North, South, Central). Love how this thread has kept going for so long - and all over a little four letter word. I'd hate to lose the future comments though.

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FI on December 06, 2009 at 1:25 PM:

Nice, 5 years on and still getting comments. That's legendary.

I always thought that it was common knowledge that 'grey' was UK English and 'gray' was US English (Although since English is from England, UK English should just be called English and US English should just be called American)

I just googled this because I was bored, I didn't expect to find a whole discussion on the word.

I prefer to use the English spelling, because I live in England.

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SSkSkylsch on December 06, 2009 at 10:29 PM:

omgggg! This same thing happened to me when I was in 3rd or 4th grade too!
Except it was with the word sulphur.
Sulphur can be spelled with a ph or an f.
Gah. I was disappointed when they disqualified me for spelling it with a ph.
That's the way we spelled it during practice, but oh wellll.
Thanks for this.
I was wondering why.
I use the grey spelling more.
It just looks plain weird with an a!
:D

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The O on December 07, 2009 at 11:57 AM:

The problem is that Americans have "americanized" the english language. UK actually have the correct way of saying things.
But, to each their own.

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Nunnas on December 08, 2009 at 5:07 AM:

I agree with The O. We do spell it correctly (as we do Colour:)) in the UK. Over time the spelling of certain words have changed in the States. This was never an issue until the WWW.
In the UK we have to deal with this on a daily basis, due to the spell checks in Microsoft and Apple products all have the American versions of the dictionary. We write 'Specialise" and according to Microsoft this is wrong. Its not of course, depending to which side of the pond you sit.

As long as we are friends and on the same team, we'll get by.

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Irene on December 09, 2009 at 2:38 AM:

I agree with Ken Blystone (I like hex codes :) and Ernst. Yep, this has made my mind up. I've been ambivalent for years about this particular issue...

I'm going with grey!!!

Besides, I'd definitely be spelling *Grey's Anatomy* wrong if I used "gray"!

P.S. I can't believe how long this thread has lasted ;D

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Irene on December 09, 2009 at 5:06 AM:

Oh, and PPS: I am a spelling and grammar pedant. For some reason I developed perfect spelling and almost as perfect grammar. I do feel quite awkward when I know I've spelt something wrong.

Since everyone has been arguing/debating the differences between American English and British English, I would like to add this for my fellow country's citizens' benefit: nobody seems to have mentioned what spelling the Australians (yes, us down in the back end of the world!) are supposed to use! Maybe we should start pretending like we have our own language.

I'll give all my reasons for using "grey":
1. It's poetic.
2. I don't actually want to be caught accidentally typing "gay" when I could have typed "gey", though this is beside the point.
3. It's British.
4. Ie. Even though the world is supposedly adopting American (USAn for the pedants!) English to replace British English, Australia is keeping its heritage. I don't want to sound "Americanised" to other Australians and be criticised for it...although I do pop in an "ized" or "center" here and there to name a few examples (latter when I'm working with HTML, but that cannot be helped, it's an American programming language...I think).
5. Grey just sounds and looks better. Me being the type of person that reads words pictorially (I study Japanese. Almost every Chinese-derived word is a picture) putting an A in grey just looks out of place.

Again, keep up the discussion of opinions about language...after all, the language reflects the culture!

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Orrin Robbins on December 13, 2009 at 11:02 AM:

I feel honoured to have read this explanation.

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El Penisor on December 15, 2009 at 5:58 AM:

Well, In a song called The Heart And The Shape, By 36Crazyfists, the first line of the Chorus, or catch im not sure, it says, "And So I Grey The Heart, And The Shape" what is this meaning to the word Grey? I Have tried Using my Philosophical ideals But i have nothing, is it to mean envy? I am not sure. Perhaps it is some sort of Emo bullshit like on spiderman where theres that tar shit its liek ohh im a tar blob im gonna stain your pretty red suit. Lmfao. But Really. Anyhelp ? ;o

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Johnson on December 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM:

How the hell is "centre" more correct than "center"? English being a phonetic language and all-- well, it SHOULD be pronounced "sentry" or "sentray". Center is more phonetically similar to how it is pronounced and therefore more correct. How can this be argued with? Older stuff is more correct? Pssshhh... My ass. Errr... arse. So I guess there are four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water and Aether. Oh, and the world is flat. Those are more correct because they came first, right?

Yes, I get the difference. Language is a human construct, blah blah... Me out !

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Jason on December 18, 2009 at 3:55 PM:

As a linguist (and yes, that means nothing due to the anonymity of the internet, but I did get my bachelors degree in linguistics...), all of you arguing grammar this and spelling that, are wrong.

Language is changing. If someone is spelling with middle english you'd all thing they were crazy, but it's just the fact that language changes.

Grammar is basically rules made up to understand language. It's a cultural thing. And it changes. So maybe 300 years from now, neither grey nor gray or maybe center nor centre will be the correct spelling. And believe it or not, these 'incorrect' spellings and uses of 'incorrect' grammar or what CAUSE the evolution of language.

So quit bickering over who's stupider than the other.

Now back to the original article (from how many years ago, now?). Well done on pointing out the current culturally acceptable spellings of grey/gray.

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Catherine on December 23, 2009 at 7:26 PM:

I wrote on my Facebook page
"I'm feeling a little grey, or maybe gray, or blue.
Boo Hoo it's Xmas!"
My daughter responded
"If its a feminine blackish-white its gray and if it leaves the toilet seat up and can't take out the recycling then its spelled grey."
I didn't think it was a gender thing so I looked it up and found this post!
Wow! This is wild!
I decided to feel bleu instead!

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shylar on December 28, 2009 at 11:18 AM:

you can spell gray ethier way they both mean the coler do they

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Bernie (NOT Zimmermann) on December 29, 2009 at 11:19 AM:

Well, first of all (and since this 'thingy' goes on for so many years already), Happy belated Christmas 2009 to you all who might stumble over this issue here: "gray vs. grey".
(My Internet Browser's built-in Spell Checker apparently accepts both ways of writing this word since it does not complain by marking it with a wavy red underline. – That's that.)

Since I am of neither English nor American descend (I'm Swiss-German) I tend to claim that English remains a foreign language to me no matter whether you guys are talking about English English or American English... (Sorry, for any misspelled/misspelt words!)

We Swiss-Germans though have pretty much the same "issue" going on with our language "Swiss-German" vs. the so-called "High-German" that people in Germany use to speak (natively).

In order to be absolutely precise it has to be mentioned that Swiss-German is NOT a written language but (some may say) rather a 'strong' German dialect. Still, if we Swiss-Germans ('try to') speak or write proper "High German" we constantly need to be aware of the fact that there is both a spelling- and pronunciation-issue present between "our" German and the German German...

One out of countless examples might show this "conflict":
Let's take the verb "to park" (a car)
in German it's "parken"
in Swiss-German it's "parkieren"

If a Swiss student writes an essay in German in a Swiss School and uses the phrase: "Ich parkiere mein Auto" (= I park my car) – he/she is a 100% correct.
If the same Swiss student writes that very same sentence when he/she is attending a School located in Germany – he/she made a mistake. It should be written as: "Ich parke mein Auto"
(If a Swiss speaks about "parkieren" in Germany it might well be that he/she will not even be understood...!)

Some of you might have heard of the fact that over the past couple of years Germany underwent "dramatic" changes in terms of their "Neue deutsche Rechtschreibung" (= New German Spelling Rules/Reform) which still brings up people arguing on how certain words are "nowadays" being spelt correctly, or how it used to be better before that reform...

Jason the linguist w/ a Bachelors degree (Blog entry Dec. 18, 2009 - just above) brought it to the point when he stated that LANGUAGE(S) is(are) CHANGING (...literally as we speak – so to speak)... Not to mention the habitual (abbreviational) language/writing of the younger folks when they're emailing or text messaging each other...

So let's be reasonable/friendly and try to set our focus on the CONTENT or CONTEXT of a written piece rather then its minor spelling discrepancies.

Maybe THIS would eventually help us people(s) ALL for a truly better understanding towards a (way) better 2010!

Peace :)

@Bernie Zimmermann: Keep up that Blog for another couple of years if you can – I personally had great fun browsing thru all the different statements and/or comments – and at the same time I apologize (or is it now apologise...?) for my extended entry (For what it is or was worth.)

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Bernie Zimmermann on December 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM:

That was a very insightful comment, Bernie (NOT Zimmermann). :) Coming from a German background, it's interesting to hear about some of the spelling/grammar issues being experienced in that part of the world.

And not to worry, I don't plan on this blog going anywhere in the next few years. :)

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Billy on December 29, 2009 at 2:34 PM:

Hi I just wanted to comment, I have ears.

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Abhilash on December 30, 2009 at 4:44 AM:

Now come on... A blog post attracting comments since... forever... WTH? I will add mine too...

I came across this site because of this whole Gray-Grey mess the American and the Brits have brought upon us. I am an Indian, and for us the Brits are right, the Brits are right. So, for us it's grey not gray. That's what the schools here teach, but they do let us know that gray is not wrong either, though like you so succinctly said it, it's a color not a *colour*.

Unfortunately, javascript, html, etc. all seem to follow the American spellings. So, the named *color* for #808080 is spelled *gray*. There are other named colors named darkgray, dimgray, lightslategray, slategray and darkslategray. Observe the *gray* in all those names.

Now, there is a named color for a lighter version of gray too, which I assumed was *lightgray*. But, some @$$ has messed up, and it seems to be *lightgrey*, God knows why!!!

So, here I am after debugging my code for an hour, and venting my anger on unnecessary stuff.

Also, thanks for having this perennial source of gray wisdom, my life is now complete. And, sorry about this unnecessarily long, meaningless post.

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Marek on December 30, 2009 at 11:19 PM:

Six years of butcrack talk above!

If gray is meant as a colour (color if you are an American) then gray and grey are correct spellings but of different ones. Something that aged but was not necessarily pained colour grey on purpose may have turned gray over time.

Gray is often a lighter shade but the pair should not be understood as levels of grey.

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Jared on December 31, 2009 at 3:12 AM:

I've always leaned towards 'gray' but I always feel that it looks wrong. I'm a software developer so I want to keep continuity with my code. I guess if I move to Europe and write any coude, I'll call use 'grey'. But until then I'll stick with 'gray'.

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a huge list on January 03, 2010 at 8:16 PM:

English raised I was always under the impression the color was grey - but using it as a last name it was spelled Gray.
Too many hours on the net had me confused and I couldn't remember - a quick google and I found this page!

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Rachel on January 11, 2010 at 8:43 PM:

I think all of these comments are both, ridiculous and entertaining.
Being from Mexico, we spell it "Gris" so there's no confusion at all!!!!! Learning English gives me a headache... LOL :-P

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Ana on January 22, 2010 at 12:18 PM:

Thank you! I've been wondering this for a while, and I didn't trust Yahoo answers that much, haha :) Grey it is for me!

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David on January 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM:

if u tink tis is korek fom off sepeling den de ameriekan wey to sepelel is korek.

ORANG BODOH. TAK GETI BAHASA.

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Liam Fleming on January 29, 2010 at 8:49 AM:

Being born and raised in Britian I had this arguement with our English teacher who was Canadian and she told me to redraft my entire essay because i spelt it grey, (now usually I have terrible spelling and this has happened before) but when I refused to change it (a word i have spelt correctly since childhood) she sent me to the headmaster who agreed with me that it was spelt grey and sent me back.

But the point is for things like Gray or Color while they may be phonetically correct to me if your going to do that do it to the whole language. I mean no one spells ghost 'gost' or bomb 'bom'.

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Laura Sherman on February 02, 2010 at 11:20 AM:

Awesome post! Wow, your blog has certainly survived through the years.

This is a great explanation and I love the story. It is good to remember how important these things are to a child (and heck, us adults too like to win). Thanks for the story!

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Mike on February 05, 2010 at 10:09 AM:

I believe it's a grey area...

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ann grant on February 08, 2010 at 4:42 PM:

I should have realized that the US had changed the spelling. I always had the idea that Gray was a Sir Name and Grey was the colour You may have come to the conclusion that yes I'm British.

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WillRabb on February 11, 2010 at 11:28 AM:

Grey looks better than gray...haaaaay....no. Grey.

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steve on February 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM:

Is grey (gray) really a colour (color) ?

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wayne kroncke on February 25, 2010 at 12:04 PM:

just for interest, gray greyhounds are actually called 'blue', there is no such thing as a gray greyhound. :)

List of greyhound coat colors

BD Brindle
BDW Brindle and White
BDWT Brindle and White Ticked
BE Blue
BEBD Blue Brindle
BEBDW Blue brindle and White
BEF Blue Fawn
BEFW Blue Fawn and White
BEW Blue and White
BK Black
BKBD Black Brindle
BKBDW Black Brindle and White
BKW Black and White
DKBD Dark Brindle
DKBDW Dark Brindle and White
DKF Dark Fawn
DKFW Dark Fawn and White
DKR Dark Red
DUN Dun
DUNBD Dun Brindle
DUNF Dun Fawn
DUNW Dun and White
F Fawn
FBD Fawn Brindle
FBDW Fawn Brindle and White
FW Fawn and White
LTBD Light Brindle
LTBDW Light Brindle and White
LTF Light Fawn
LTFW Light Fawn and White
R Red
RBD Red Brindle
RBDW Red Brindle and White
RF Red Fawn
RFW Red Fawn and White
RW Red White
W White
WBD White and Brindle
WBDT White with Brindle Ticking
WBE White and Blue
WBEBD White and Blue Brindle
WBEF White and Blue Fawn
WBET White with Blue Ticking
WBK White and Black
WBKBD White and Black Brindle
WBKBE White, Black and Blue
WBKT White with Black Ticking
WDKBD White and Dark Brindle
WDKBDT White with Dark Brindle Ticking
WDKF White and Dark Fawn
WDUN White and Dun
WF White and Fawn
WFBD White and Fawn Brindle
WFT White with Fawn Ticking
WLTBD White and Light Brindle
WLTF White and Light Fawn
WR White and Red
WRBD White and Red Brindle
WRF White and Red Fawn
WRT White with Red Ticking

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Me Know How on March 05, 2010 at 4:48 AM:

Oh I nearly had an orgasm!! I am so happy to know that the two spellings are acceptable. It's better to use GREY than that GRAY because GRAY is gay.

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Tasha on March 12, 2010 at 10:24 PM:

As a young student I've always used "grey" mostly because many of my favorite novels were wrote by New England and foreign writers (I live in Central USA). When my Email underlined it as mis-spelled I searched "grey vs. gray" and found this. I am grateful, but I think I will continue using "grey" until a teacher, or someone of the sort, directs me otherwise.
As for one being better than the other, I do believe you are a bunch of whiners. I've seen both used in a single poem, and both seemed correct because it made the mind pronounce them different, thus creating clever rhymes for each. As far as "colour" and other spellings go, who cares? English is such a confusing language, I am glad to keep up with all of the grammar-- none the less a letter here or there!

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Elizabeth on March 13, 2010 at 5:13 AM:

thanks a ton! Even if this post is even a thousand years old; I am sooo happy! I always used it "grey" and when I saw others spelling it, "Gray" I was like "Oh snap, have I've been saying something weird when i write it 'Grey'?!" Lol, but question; why do people in Japan spell it Gray when that is the American Version? (Supposedly) Young writer needs help here!

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Mhlonishwa Njabulo Mkhize on March 13, 2010 at 2:47 PM:

WOW beautiful people!
I wish I could have been part of this from day one.

Anyway, now that I'm here, may I first mention that I am from South Africa and my home language is Zulu. (And please don't worry about pronouncing my name, just use 'MNM')

And in school, I do not know which English were we taught, English English or American English, so I will focus on what I am on currently, which is a computer with an OS from America, MS Windows Vista Business and also MS Office 2007 from the same place.
With this computer, I run my business and communicate with other South Africans who are generally on the same MS software from America, some are on Apple and others on Linux. So for me, the English language on the MS Office is US English.
Now, when I type 'grey' or 'gray' in MS Word, they are both acceptable but, between 'color' and 'colour', only color is acceptable and not colour. So, if "Gray is color" and "Grey is colour", then I think 'colour' should also be accepted too.

Personally, I like to use the words 'gray' and 'colour' more than I like to use the words 'grey' and 'color', which is a total switch to what seems to be normal in the comments above - gray for color and grey for colour. But the point of my opinion is not about which is right or better.
Just like the Germans as shared by Bernie (NOT Zimmermann) on December 29, 2009, it does happen in Zulu too that two different spellings be used to point at one word or meaning. A typical example is a stone. In Zulu, a stone is called 'itshe' or 'ilitshe'. I don't know which came first between the two spellings but, they are both fully functional in the Zulu language. But an exception here, different from the case of Swiss Germans and Germans as appears on one of the posts above and "English English and American English", is that the two spellings (itshe and ilitshe) were not the result of a group on people foreign to the original Zulu language, as far as my knowledge goes.

So, coming to "which is better, gray or grey, color or colour etc", I would like to say that the use of any language, (I believe), is not about what sounds better than the other or what is easier to pronounce than the other. Imagine you had a name that you loved so much, (Cc Dave) like Negotiations (nego-shee-a-shuns), for an example. Then you come to my company for a job and I tell you that hey, I find it easier to call you (Nego-see-a-shuns), and then suggest that you update your Identity Document. American or else, you would not be happy.

But now after reading these posts, I understand that 'gray' originate to what has became the actual language to the Americans, 'derived from grey' and not that it was easier to pronounce. So, to me, its like America has its own English language which differs at times from that of the English people, like in the case of gray and grey.

So, for good practice, point of my opinion, use what is expected of you, not what is easier, trendy and new! Understand your audience or the receivers of your message, think about your desired results of your message, then deliver it in a way that is expected of you.
Example, if I may write a business proposal to British business persons, I would avoid using 'gray, customized, organization etc' and use 'grey, customised, organisation etc!'

I understand that America has became a certain amount of intimidation in numerous ways to other groups of nations, as also partly expressed by S on September 10, 2009, but the rule of using what is expected of you will always make more sense because, (@ S) even them Americans will have to consider the results of their CVs sent for British jobs in terms of spelling and all that is involved.

Ending my part, I would like to ask a question to all those who read my post.

Q: What do you call the part of the shirt that covers the tie around the neck?

I will keep checking back on this page for an answer, I have added this page to my bookmarks/fav.

By the way, one of my company colours is gray and if ever you see the logo, that 'M' is not at the center of the icon...

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Mhlonishwa Njabulo Mkhize on March 13, 2010 at 3:28 PM:

WOW beautiful people!
I wish I could have been part of this from day one.

Anyway, now that I'm here, may I first mention that I am from South Africa and my home language is Zulu. (And please don't worry about pronouncing my name, just use 'MNM')

And in school, I do not know which English were we taught, English English or American English, so I will focus on what I am on currently, which is a computer with an OS from America, MS Windows Vista Business and also MS Office 2007 from the same place.
With this computer, I run my business and communicate with other South Africans who are generally on the same MS software from America, some are on Apple and others on Linux. So for me, the English language on the MS Office is US English.
Now, when I type 'grey' or 'gray' in MS Word, they are both acceptable but, between 'color' and 'colour', only color is acceptable and not colour. So, if "Gray is color" and "Grey is colour", then I think 'colour' should also be accepted too.

Personally, I like to use the words 'gray' and 'colour' more than I like to use the words 'grey' and 'color', which is a total switch to what seems to be normal in the comments above - gray for color and grey for colour. But the point of my opinion is not about which is right or better.
Just like the Germans as shared by Bernie (NOT Zimmermann) on December 29, 2009, it does happen in Zulu too that two different spellings be used to point at one word or meaning. A typical example is a stone. In Zulu, a stone is called 'itshe' or 'ilitshe'. I don't know which came first between the two spellings but, they are both fully functional in the Zulu language. But an exception here, different from the case of Swiss Germans and Germans as appears on one of the posts above and "English English and American English", is that the two spellings (itshe and ilitshe) were not the result of a group on people foreign to the original Zulu language, as far as my knowledge goes.

So, coming to "which is better, gray or grey, color or colour etc", I would like to say that the use of any language, (I believe), is not about what sounds better than the other or what is easier to pronounce than the other. Imagine you had a name that you loved so much, (Cc Dave) like Negotiations (nego-shee-a-shuns), for an example. Then you come to my company for a job and I tell you that hey, I find it easier to call you (Nego-see-a-shuns), and then suggest that you update your Identity Document. American or else, you would not be happy.

But now after reading these posts, I understand that 'gray' originate to what has became the actual language to the Americans, 'derived from grey' and not that it was easier to pronounce. So, to me, its like America has its own English language which differs at times from that of the English people, like in the case of gray and grey.

So, for good practice, point of my opinion, use what is expected of you, not what is easier, trendy and new! Understand your audience or the receivers of your message, think about your desired results of your message, then deliver it in a way that is expected of you.
Example, if I may write a business proposal to British business persons, I would avoid using 'gray, customized, organization etc' and use 'grey, customised, organisation etc!'

I understand that America has became a certain amount of intimidation in numerous ways to other groups of nations, as also partly expressed by S on September 10, 2009, but the rule of using what is expected of you will always make more sense because, (@ S) even them Americans will have to consider the results of their CVs sent for British jobs in terms of spelling and all that is involved.

Ending my part, I would like to ask a question to all those who read my post.

Q: What do you call the part of the shirt that covers the tie around the neck?

I will keep checking back on this page for an answer, I have added this page to my bookmarks/fav.

By the way, one of my company colours is gray and if ever you see the logo, that 'M' is not at the center of the icon...

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Greay! on March 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM:

Huh. Well if they're both correct, which spelling should i use?

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Mhlonishwa Njabulo Mkhize on March 14, 2010 at 5:52 PM:

@ Greay!
Use the one that will best suite your desired results of your context!

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billy on March 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM:

ur a noob.

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jim on March 20, 2010 at 10:17 AM:

Or we could all just be grownups (LoL) and quite worrying about how someone else spells their words (assuming they're using the proper spelling for their dialect) as long as we are able to clearly understand what they mean.

In case anyone cares, Sanjay Sarma (above) noticed that a very common reference point in English language and usage, the QED, defines the spelling and usage for both gray and grey. Works for me, just another old American.

Also, web page coders are already painfully aware of Microsoft's confusion on the matter since Microsoft recognizes one spelling or the other (but not both at the same time oddly enough) in the names of various pre-defined color names for web pages. For example, in regard to values for the CSS attribute 'background-color', Microsoft recognizes 'gray' but not 'grey', and 'lightgrey' but not 'lightgray'.

Now, if a multi-billion dollar (US) company is totally confused about the spelling of a simple four-letter color, one can only imagine how hard it is for everyone else ... oh wait, you're all here! :-))

:-)) = LoL BTW

Have a great day!

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jim on March 20, 2010 at 10:20 AM:
Kari, Lisa, and Anna on March 25, 2010 at 12:00 PM:

...how has this been going on for five years...??
like how...??????????????????

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Me on April 06, 2010 at 1:10 PM:

I'm going with the spelling Gray and I am also naming my son that. I typed in this subject out of curiosity but knew no matter what, my spelling would be Gray. Why? Well, my husband's name is Gary and we already have a Jr. so our last son will have the same letters as his father and brother, but just switched around, thus coming up with Gray. I LOVE this as a first name and can't wait till he is here to name him (4 mo to go!).

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Diana Schnarr on April 07, 2010 at 8:10 AM:

Thanks for the clarification, albeit a personal one. This has been a mild irritation for some time.....

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Gerry on April 15, 2010 at 10:54 AM:

It looks like there was an intentional effort in the early days of the United States to make their language slightly different from England's. Probably to identify English spies back in the days when the two countries were not so friendly with each other.

If you live in the United States use the word "Gray". It is the patriotic thing to do. We have our own unique language.

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Joe Barstow on April 20, 2010 at 11:09 AM:

Thanks for the info, I just wanted to point out that this article has been getting comments for nearly six years! WOW! Congratulations on the quality of content you have here :)

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darkborn on April 20, 2010 at 6:23 PM:

Americans thinks that they are different and supreme species. Metric system is too logic for most of them... so let it be. Fade to grey. Gray, rofl... Neighbours? Nope. Neighbars.

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Rory on April 22, 2010 at 9:04 AM:

I'm sure this has been posted somewhere on here - so many posts! - but I couldn't read them all.

Anyways, just to point out (or re-point out) that the word "Greyhound" (the bus, the dog) has nothing to do with the colour "grey".

Cheers,
Rory

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tegalto on April 23, 2010 at 10:08 PM:

My last name is Gray, and as a teacher, people always ask me about this as if I'm the authority on the subject (makes perfect sense, right?). I had to find an article online like this one so that I could finally set everyone straight.

I've always spelled it with an A because of my name (and constantly correcting people spelling my name "It's GRAY with an A"). I was surprised to find out that some of my sisters always spell the color with an E, because in their logic, grey was the color, and Gray was their name.

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jeanine on May 01, 2010 at 6:31 PM:

How amazing! This website has been commenting on grey / gray for SIX YEARS!! Glad I found it though because it gives a clear explanation of the logic behind the spellings.

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charmedquark on May 06, 2010 at 1:39 PM:

This post is greyt!

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Norab on May 08, 2010 at 9:19 AM:

I am in the process of creating a board game and need to use the word 'gray'/'grey' as part of the instructions. Since I'm in the UK, and after reading all the comments, I will use 'grey'.

Thank you all for the 6 years of comments which I bet will go on at least until 2015.

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alikat on May 15, 2010 at 5:40 AM:

This is amazing. All these years of discussing grey/gray.... of course, I could only read bits and pieces of it, but what fun!
I feel much better now, having resolved this apparent confusion. So many people are so passionate about this issue. I can now sleep at night.

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Jaryn on May 28, 2010 at 12:42 AM:

This is the most hilarious but often sought after topic ever! My girlfriend questioned me on spelling it grAy and I thought back about when I used to spell it grEy but something changed. I think reading American novels and seeing it spelled with an 'a' made me believe that I was wrong in using an 'e' though now I can proudly go back to my native spelling of grey. (Canadian) Thank you Bernie Zimmermann, you are the number one result in a google search of gray vs grey. Thanks for the clarity! Nobody's wrong after all.

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mark daniel miller on May 28, 2010 at 6:34 AM:

after reading many of the comments here (after reading your article thoroughly - thank you, Mr. Zimmerman) - the "correctness" can be hard to decide upon (obviously). it has always been my understanding (and my semi-belief) that correctness (or "properness") of a choice between two spellings or phrasings in a launguage should be based upon which came first in said language. as such, being that "grey" is the British derivation which was changed into the American spelling of "gray" - "grey" would be the correct/proper spelling of this word in question...but then you can get into a conversation about the difference(s) between something being "proper" or "correct" (socially) and something being "true" or "factual".

anywho - my 13 cents :)

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mark daniel miller on May 28, 2010 at 6:35 AM:

ps - my trouble with the word also stems not just from the color or name of a street, but also due to the fact that i have good friend with this word as his first name, and i can never remember how to spell it :)

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RICH on June 01, 2010 at 4:11 PM:

I am one who appreciates accuracy and correctness. However as I age and observe changes as systems and cultures evolve, this item helped me to relax my rigid views (a little). Hope you enjoy it !!
The new Euro language
The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik emthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by z" and "w" by v

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

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Bernie Zimmermann on June 01, 2010 at 7:27 PM:

That is hilarious, Rich. Thanks for sharing.

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Jon on June 03, 2010 at 5:35 PM:

Please brang back ebonics to Oakland schools! We no its gray in Cali.

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Drew on June 08, 2010 at 7:07 AM:

Spelling changes through time. If we all stuck to the "first" version of the spelling as the correct one, we would all use Old English spellings.

PS: In America, "grey" is probably around 40% usage, and "gray" is around "60%" usage, but "grey" definitely strikes me as pretentious.

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Andy on June 19, 2010 at 9:13 AM:

Wow, I love it. Helped me resolve a burning question. Also love that this topic is still being discussed 6 years after the first post. :) !

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Justin on June 23, 2010 at 5:01 AM:

Sitting at work and having this debate. Thanks for the help. You should try to answer more pointless questions.

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Aggie on July 11, 2010 at 8:28 PM:

Hello.

Speaking as someone with both a B.A. and an M.A. in English (with an emphasis in language and literature, i.e., semantics, semiotics, linguistics, rhetoric, etc.), the difference as had been explained to me both by former instructors (of disparate nationalities, such as Canadian, Serbian, French, Mexican) and my mother (Lithuanian), is this:

Gray is a color.
Grey is the act of turning grey.

Gray is an adjective, which describes a noun (a gray crayon).
Grey is a verb, which describes an action. (Her hair is greying as a result of the stress in trying to determine the difference between the spellings of "gray" and "grey".)

The easiest way to remember the difference is that gray is a color, thus it signifies a permanent state of being, and grey [to grey] signifies a transitional state, so since A comes before E in the English alphabet, grAY stays put and doesn't change color, but grEy moves along down the alphabet, and indicates the act of turning gray.

Hope that tip helps!

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Aggie on July 11, 2010 at 8:34 PM:

Whoops! Sorry about the typo in the previous post, which should properly read:

Gray is a color.
Grey is the act of turning gray.

On a related note, the rule of alphabet sequencing also works for clearing confusion between "stationAry" and "stationEry".

A comes before E, so since A stays put at the beginning of the alphabet, but E moves on down the line, the easiest way to recall the difference between the two is:

StationAry means to stay put.
StationEry is that on which you write letters, which will move when they are mailed.

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Sandy on July 12, 2010 at 2:08 PM:

My daughter will be giving birth to a baby girl in 9 days and wants to honor my mother's side of the family by giving the child my mother's maiden name as her middle name. My mother's maiden name was "Gray" or "Grey", but I am not certain which one. Since most of my ancestors came to America from the British Isles, I think "Grey" would be the more appropriate spelling now that I have read this blog. I will let her know before the baby is born so she can decide herself how she would like it spelled. Thanks. I like it very much!

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Sam on July 13, 2010 at 8:12 PM:

We just found out that our baby is going to be a boy!! We love the name Greyson/Grayson. But we have been fighting a little bit about how to spell the name. I think Greyson is an awesome name. My wife, however, thinks Grayson is a better name since we are at least somewhat citizens of these United States of America (or is it Amarica since we change everything). Anyways this article only slightly helped since at first I thought that one was a color and the other wasn't. Now I find that either could be right.

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Sam on July 14, 2010 at 4:04 AM:

We just found out that our baby is going to be a boy!! We love the name Greyson/Grayson. But we have been fighting a little bit about how to spell the name. I think Greyson is an awesome name. My wife, however, thinks Grayson is a better name since we are at least somewhat citizens of these United States of America (or is it Amarica since we change everything). Anyways this article only slightly helped since at first I thought that one was a color and the other wasn't. Now I find that either could be right.

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Sad Songs on July 14, 2010 at 8:39 AM:

this is something new that i have learned from you. thank u very much. keep it up...

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Jo on July 16, 2010 at 1:41 AM:

I'm part American, I also took English lessons in Denmark where the spelling would've probably have been grey due to the English taught here was UK-English based so I never considered that the word could be spelt any other way than 'grey' and it was never corrected nor did anyone ever comment on my spelling of the word 'grey' when I lived in the U.S. and studied there. I don't think one is more appropriate than the other but my eyes/brain just more readily accepts the spelling 'grey' where as 'gray' just doesn't look right to my eyes/brain but I wouldn't say it's wrong either. However, if grey/gray is part of a name, the 'gray' spelling looks more "natural" to my eyes/brain.

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warmongeringhippie on July 19, 2010 at 5:04 PM:

Maybe I'll start saying "light black" instead. Or is it "lite black?" Or better yet "dark white."

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ali on July 22, 2010 at 7:52 PM:

Americans... haha. When Webster decided that we needed to be a completely separate entity from the English, he also changed the language. Just minute changes, like taking the 'u's from words such as 'colour' and changing the 'c's to 's's such as 'defense'. And, apparently, changing the 'e' to an 'a' in the word 'gray'. Personally, despite growing up in the US, I've always spelled it 'grey', and will continue to do so. :)

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lana on July 24, 2010 at 10:40 PM:

Haha... has anyone ever played Neopets? That website was my first taste of UK language, and I remember going - what's a "faerie?!" This was where I experienced the wonders of "colour" and "grey" and "mum" (actually, mum came in the form of Harry Potter books) For some reason, "grey" is the only word that stuck with me throughout that stage. I still write fairy and color and mom, but I'll always write grey until I look back, wonder if anyone will notice, then self-consciously erase it. Personally, I think grey looks prettier than gray (if that's not weird at all), but since I live American and considering there's been a six-year debate on this page alone, I'll use gray to keep the peace. :P

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Dan on July 27, 2010 at 6:05 AM:

I've always thought both ways were correct, like accidentally and accidently. It's funny how much American hate this brought on by the language purists. I am never really had a feeling on which to use because I thought they were both correct. Just to piss people off though, I'm going to write gray from now on. You really do need more important things to stress about.

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joe on July 29, 2010 at 3:44 PM:

Drew on June 08, 2010 at 7:07 AM: said "grey" was pretentious.

Aggie on July 11, 2010 at 8:34 PM: proved it.

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Garuu on July 29, 2010 at 8:12 PM:

I see how this works, but I think your "American Derivation" label is somewhat incorrect. I've been to several English-speaking countries, including; USA, Australia, Great Britain, and even China, and almost every single time I've seen a word with an unstressed "err" sound at the end, there was no letter U in it.

So, I'm thinking that it's not just Americans that spell it "Color". I believe that it is truly a matter of individual choice, even though I believe that all words with unstressed "err"s at the end are spelled "or", not "our". Our is pronounced aow-wer, so when I see color spelled "colour", my brain pronounces it as "Kuhl-aow-wer." instead of "Kuh-lerr", and it just doesn't feel right to me.

In my personal opinion, these words are all spelled correctly:

Color
Armor
Flavor
Honor
Neighbor
Rumor
Labor

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Sheeba C on August 02, 2010 at 7:58 AM:

This has been interesting to read all the way through.
A friend in UK recently told me that 'gray really is spelled grey' .... seems it depends which side of the pond one lives on; how one was brought up; preferences for spelling can be a personal thing.
Just because one person thinks a spelling is correct doesn't mean it is carved in stone.
So, whatever floats your boat - go with it. Perhaps today is a gray day, but tomorrow is a grey day !
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the problems of this world were this simple !

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Andrew on August 04, 2010 at 10:13 AM:

I have come to the understanding that "Grey" with an E is the British English spelling of the word, and "Gray" with an A is the American English spelling of the word.

I remember the difference by A for American and E for English (British). Though I have not found any research supporting this theory, my mother who has a Ph. D. in Linguistics from Louisiana State University has explained it to me as so.

Although both versions of "grey" and "gray" are commonly used in their same meaning, and sometimes even so in a single body of text, I simply use "gray" whenever I am referring to the color.

Also, I am a graphic designer and have noticed that Pantone® uses the "gray" version in their Pantone Matching System®.

Just my 2 cents, might have been 25 cents though. :)

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Matt on August 10, 2010 at 7:57 PM:

I'd like to see grey and gray used for cool and warm shades (respectively). But then I'm a bit strange.

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shirley blair on August 12, 2010 at 10:46 AM:

Oh, it's such a grey (gray?) matter anyway!

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Tom Storey on August 13, 2010 at 3:37 AM:

In my experience there tend to be two camps of spelling, the Americans have their "variants" which usually tends to only apply to Americans, whereas most others tend to rely on the European "variants".

So then, an easy way to remember:

'e' for Europe
'a' for America

Choose which ever your dialect relies on, or perhaps which ever is most appropriate at the time. Works for me. :-)

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Mary O'Shaugnessy on August 23, 2010 at 6:03 PM:

I went to Dan O'Connor's website--referenced above--and asked him this question, since he was the trainer for a business writing seminar I had attended at Lyrasis last year. He's of the "a" for America school, but also indicated that both have gained acceptance in the U.S., and therefore neither spelling would be incorrect--though "gray" is preferable. He lives in Guadalajara, MX, and suggested that we make it very simple and switch to "gris" which is the Spanish word for gray. Or is it the Spanish word for grey? He also wondered--"If someone is writing a book on a plane flying from Fargo, ND to London, England, and is about to write the word "gray," how does he/she know which spelling to use? Perhaps the writer should consult mapquest to see which country is closer at any given moment?"

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Bob Hubeli on August 23, 2010 at 8:00 PM:

Thank goodness somebody straightened it out for me. I was just about to OD on Advil. :^)

Thanks and Cheers
Bob

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Billy T Kidd on August 25, 2010 at 12:26 PM:

I am just amazed that we are still commenting on this blog from six years ago. Well done!

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David Anderson on August 31, 2010 at 3:13 PM:

This is too funny... I am a Canadian living in the United States (not America -- in case you're unaware, Canada is a part of "North America" :)

Anyway, I too learned English the British way because I'm Canadian and also because my parents were born in England. I spell the word as "grey" and I spell the other word as "colour". Spell checkers by default use "American" English and therefore, these words are marked as spelled incorrectly, So what do I do?

I spell words the "American" way because I'm tired of teaching the spell checker to spell it correctly :) Yes, I know a "Canadian" English dictionary exists, but it's too inconvenient to keep changing the dictionary.

Besides, I get ribbed by my "American" friends when I pronounce words the "British" way; i.e., the letter "Z" is pronounced "Zed", NOT "Zee"... ah well, America does have its advantages so, I have assimilated :)

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Proud American on September 08, 2010 at 12:30 PM:

Bo I've always spelled it grey and I'm a proud American. I do not appreciate you painting a picture of Americans as Idiots who do not know how to spell a simple word. Clearly, from what the author of this article wrote, both spellings are right. There was no "Country" bashing necessary.

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Soul Glencoe on September 15, 2010 at 10:03 AM:

I saw the word "grevious" used above by someone. I believe the word is spelled "grievous". I hope I'm not out of line in posting this here.

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Amy on September 18, 2010 at 2:36 AM:

I thought everyone just knew that naturally? =

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speller on September 19, 2010 at 3:35 PM:

thank u i am in spelling bees and wanted to know this i didnt ever want to be given the word

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Kay on October 01, 2010 at 5:10 AM:

I'm Lving this! I was going to update my status on fb and got confused by the two words. Thanks for the confirmations. You educated me! Lve your post! :)

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me on October 02, 2010 at 3:20 PM:

What I have learned from this web page is that most people in Europe are hateful and jealous of Americans.

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Judi Gibbs on October 12, 2010 at 2:10 PM:

While once again proving my manager to be a horrid speller, I googled "gray" to find the correct spelling. I thought for sure she spelled yet another word wrong. OK so she's in the clear this time. Who would have thought I would happen upon this site. Pretty cool.

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lol really? on November 04, 2010 at 5:37 AM:

"What I have learned from this web page is that most people in Europe are hateful and jealous of Americans. "

Really? You're the fattest nation on the planet, noone likes you and you're following the European model of healthcare because you're jealous of it.

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James on November 04, 2010 at 3:27 PM:

I know this post is ancient, but I see a lot of misinformation being thrown around. "Grey" was not the original spelling, set in stone by Englishmen.

According to an interesting and authoritative note in the Oxford English Dictionary, the spelling "gray" was championed by Samuel Johnson, English writer and lexicographer and other English lexicographers; but in the twentieth century "grey" became the established spelling in Britain anyway.

source http://www.greyorgray.com/

Thats right - The first dictionary to define the word throughout the WORLD said it was gray. The Brits were, for once in their life, giong against the grain.

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Teri on November 09, 2010 at 8:21 PM:

I have to say that I love this post and the fact that it has lasted so long...

The only reason I googled "grey/gray" was because I live in Italy for 4 years and I couldn't remember the Italian translation exactly (I wanted to name my cat something along those lines).

Anyway, apparently "gray" is purely the color "grigio", but "grey" means much more (in Italian)...."dull, gloomy, somber, dark, obscure, sullen, dour, morose, sulky, deep, hollow, raucous"...

So, in some small part, I'd have to agree with Aggie above, in the statement "The easiest way to remember the difference is that gray is a color, thus it signifies a permanent state of being, and grey [to grey] signifies a transitional state"

BTW, this is my first blog entry EVER and it's kind of fun!

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eder on November 10, 2010 at 11:19 AM:

This is quite funny..
I used to work for PPG paints we had a industrial customer refuse to accept his paint as he stated it was not what he ordered.

He orderer Gray paint and was shipped Grey paint. He refussed to accept it stating it must be a different formulation.

We pointed out that the paint was made at our facility in Canada where gray is spelled grey.

After several tests we proved to him that our Grey formulation matched his grey formulation.

When he set us a letter saying this color was acceptable a few of us joked that we should send back a letter stating:

"We have no idea what you are talking about and by the way we are still waiting on your response on the coloUr...."

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superman on November 10, 2010 at 11:20 AM:

coollllllllllllllllllllllllllll
i feel like a fool

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Charmaine on November 11, 2010 at 6:28 PM:

WOW!! The funny thing is, I am Jamaican and my husband is Caucasian American and we both live here in America. I find myself correcting his 'English' all the time....being that Jamaica was under the British Regime until 1962, my education taught me to spell the "England English" way thus, I spell 'colour'.... 'favour', 'flavour etc. I am very good at spelling, however after asking me to spell a word, my husband always double-check with google...which I do too some times, however, I feel that, the mere fact that we all mostly speak 'English',where else would it better be said to have come from but "England"....so our (my hubby and I) arguments always end in my thinking I won the discussion just on the basis of my upbringing being an English background. His rebuttal to me is always, "...well you live in America now and we do things differently here".... So wrong.

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Nissa on November 15, 2010 at 12:52 PM:

Not to belabor/our this point, but I grew up in America, with a father that was Canadian and a grandmother and Uncle that are English, and I had to learn both ways of spelling. To say the least, through many cards and letters over the years, I asked many questions.

Also, as many children do, I colored rather fervently at times and the color/ouring crayons came from an american company, Crayola. The color was always spelled grey.

So my delemna growing up was when I would read something somewhere and would then go to the dictionary, huge as it was, since my father was a journalist, and it had both.

For many years I have gone back and forth. Is ey or ay more correct. Although my husband from New Zealand (an English colony at one point) would say I am sure it was grey, I would not hesitate to use either. However, that being said, I have always spelled it Grey, after the Crayola Crayon I loved to use. Now being American, I am sure that means that I am some sort of traitor, but to me, if an American company as big as Crayola can use the word spelled grey and the Wasl Street Journal spells the same word gray, I am sure I can find it in my heart to forgive all who spell it differently.

Also, since we did initially come from England, at least many if not all of our forefathers did, I am sure that they would recognis/ze both. I would also like to point out that although some may think it pretentious of Americans to use a different spelling of the word, should probably realis/ze that when we left England / Europe, we were trying to make many changes, some more vast than others. In this small way we changed our language, making it our own, without having to totally change it. Language being a living breathing thing, it changes daily. The dictionary makes tens of thousands of additions every year. When I was growing up, aint was not a word, but it appears in the dictionary now, because it is used all the time.

Just my two cents... :-)

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Chainsaw on November 23, 2010 at 2:32 PM:

If you ask people to pick the best color to fit the name, gray and grey are two different colors.

http://www.greyorgray.com/

They also state that grey is a particular color, whereas gray is a category - a sliding scale between white and black.

There you go - now there's TWO words you can spell wrong!

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laloa on November 30, 2010 at 5:25 PM:

thnks for the tell , but actually it depends if ur country follows british or america

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Tori on December 05, 2010 at 6:11 PM:

I believe that grey is canadian and gray is american.
Just as he exemplified himself:
American: organise, judgment, color
Canadian: organize, judgement, colour

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J_Diggs on December 06, 2010 at 1:47 PM:

Since this blog is undying, and after reading through a bunch of posts, I felt compelled to at least list the root of the word since it seems no one really touched on it.

The word Grey/Gray, is traceable back to a prehistoric Indo-European ghrghwos. From this it was descended West and North Germanic grǣwaz/grwyaz, which produced German grau, Dutch grauw, Swedish gr, and Danish graa as well as English grey.

So interestingly, it appears their is a quite a mix amongst languages over time between the use of an 'a' vs. an 'e'.

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Pagespinner on December 12, 2010 at 12:21 PM:

As an (English) English teacher I would like to make a few points (sorry if they've been covered before):

1. The differentiation between the two spellings is mainly the result of mischief-making by dictionaries. For example, my American Kindle DX's (British) Oxford American Dictionary flags up "grey" as only British despite its wide use in America. The last really good dictionary was the 1933 Oxford, which was permissive towards centre/center, color/colour etc.

2. In a famous survey among British tailors it was concluded that "grey" and "gray" were in fact regarded in the trade as two slightly different colours.

3. In another famous survey about how the British and the Americans spelt, to many linguists' surprise Americans frequently used British spellings and vice-versa, despite what they had been taught at school.

4. "Grey" in "greyhound" apparently has nothing to do with the colour.

5. In defence of English spellings of English (if I had any need to defend them) the differentiation in spelling of words of different meaning ("savory/savoury" "cheque/check" etc.) helps preserve etymology and ease of reading.

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Stephanie on December 12, 2010 at 5:40 PM:

Thanks! I was a bit confused too. But after reading your article, I was quite enlightened. Continue enlightening us with bits of information. God bless! :)

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LGB on December 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM:

So glad today was slow at work as it has taken most of the day to read this entire six year blog & share it with co-workers (yes, between working moments). It has been very interesting and quite witty at times! Pleased to read that either spelling (grey/gray) can be correct, but the geographic area seems to be a primary determining factor. In our office, the train of thought was this: gray describes a color and grey describes a mood. Familiar with names using both spellings, so that didn't seem unusual at all. Remaining neutral, so where ever you are and how ever you learned the spelling you use...that's fine (I'll continue to use both). Over the years, several words have been mentioned and for two of them, my preference is blonde over blond (looks incomplete) and cancellation over cancelation (same reason). It seems that technology is also changing the way we spell and that frustrates me more than using gray or grey. In emails and texting, people shorten words or use such butchered variations of the letters...very annoying to me. My texting takes much more time to do since everything is spelled out! Certainly am not fond of texters using numbers in words (4u rather than for you) or combo letters/numbers (4get UR@wk) but really don't like texters using synonyms (there for their & your for you're & no for know). For the latter, one doesn't know if the speller is using a short cut or just doesn't know any better! Maybe it is because my little brain tries to make real words before comprehending the sentence. Oh well, thanks for the interesting read and allowing me to comment! If I've made an glaring errors, be please gentle. Now, to bookmark this blog and see how many years it will continue!

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LGB on December 23, 2010 at 3:22 PM:

oops, ANY glaring errors...oh, the irony...

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Bret on December 30, 2010 at 9:06 AM:

Working on a project at work and have both grey and gray in the database. Now im more confused than ever as to which spelling to use if they are both acceptable! It was entertaining reading all the different responses and stories that people have about the difference between grey and gray.

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Mike V. Bennett on January 03, 2011 at 8:07 PM:

In another 19th Century System of Chromatology (the study of colors), the Pigment difference between Gray and Grey depended upon whether you your adding White to Black (Gray) or adding Black to White (Grey), in that the Hue of both Black and White can be of differing and are therefore considered to be Chromatic, rather than achromatic, as they are in light.

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David on January 08, 2011 at 8:57 PM:

TY so much for the clarification

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thomas on January 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM:

I started at the beginning of this thread, bounced a few down, continued scrolling and scrolling, stumbled on how Brits hate Americans, continued scrolling.... and finally, what seems like a scientific answer. Thank you Mr. Bennett! Now that makes sense.

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Kate on January 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM:

I find it funny that these people are fighting over which spelling is correct.

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Chris Bartsch on January 17, 2011 at 2:35 PM:

What fun to find so many years of discussion around the spelling of the one word in English that is intended to describe the combining of two nearly indescribable physical properties that have so much meaning to us and our Universe.

One is "black" to describe the complete absence of light and/or an inability to reflect light . (this is important to us because the light energy is converted to heat energy when meets a dark object)

The other is "white" to describe our "color sensation" when exposed to the complete spectrum of light. (light energy is our source of life and growth)

I arrived at this blog looking for the best of the two spellings for use in a website and since I'm a Canadian raised with the Oxford dictionary, I just might go with Grey !

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Alue Wolf on January 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM:

oh my goddess I feel better knowing that now xD haha thank you

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Swithin Chandler IV on January 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM:

Nice job, Bernie. Almost seven years later, this blog entry is still useful.

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moi on February 07, 2011 at 3:32 AM:

You couldn't be more wrong. "Gray" is the correct spelling of a name, normally a last name. However, "grey" is the CORRECT spelling in reference to the color/colour. Though anyone can spell their name the way they wish, the spelling "gray" is NEVER correct when one is referring to the color/colour.

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Tyler on February 08, 2011 at 1:21 AM:

I started reading all of the comments until I realized just how many there were.

Thank you for clarifying this and complimenting it with an interesting story.

However, "grey" or "gray" will never be a "colour" nor a "color" as they are technically shades and do not fit into the color spectrum.

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Catherine on February 09, 2011 at 5:43 PM:

I've got to say that this is the most amazing collection of comments about a pretty unimportant topic that I've EVER SEEN. I've only skimmed the highlights but have been more entertained that I think I've ever been online.

thank you one and all

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SteveJ on February 18, 2011 at 8:57 AM:

I think the American spelling is a disgrace! All it does is bring confusion. Consider these words: they, whey, prey. Why haven't the Americans (USA) replaced the "e" with an "a?" They are just being insincere, ridiculous and rebelious.

Although we have different dialects there has to be a standard reference point; otherwise any country can wake up one morning and suddenly decide to bastardise a language that took years to evolve. You could then have multiple spellings of the same English word, leading to chaos and confusion. Oh I get it! Since it's the USA that's bastardising the language it's OK.

Look at silly Noah Webster. He decided to start mis-spelling words. This had nothing to do with evolution of a language. It had more to do with Webster's rebelious nature, ego and affrontery to dare hijack a noble, successful language that many nations had adopted.

The English language does not need the USA; yet the converse is not true. Without English most North Americans would not be able to communicate. Before a North American or another country can be allowed to change a spelling and claim it is grammatically correct, there has to be agreement with the English lexicographers, who are the custodians of the language, so that everyone agrees on the changes. It is not right that just because a country is economically strong, it can do what it likes with another country's language, in regards to grammar.

"Gray" is the wrong spelling. "Color" is also wrong. The USA has simply imposed it on their people to annoy the English.

It is clear from previous posts that most people follow what they grew up with. If you are brainwashed into mis-spelling words at a young age, when you see the correct spelling at a latter stage, you will consider it strange.

People can speak in whatever accent they choose, but when it comes to the written language there has to be one standard for all, in order to avoid confusion. The language is English not American.

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SteveJ on February 18, 2011 at 11:15 PM:

The more I ponder over it, the more infuriated I become. This is the height of intellectual dishonesty. A small group of mischievous individuals cherry picking the English language and causing widespread confusion.

Why do the Americans not write "thAy are" instead of "thEy are?" Afterall they changed the colour "grEy" to "grAy." An inconsistent, needless change perpetrated by arrogant people.

Webster and his cohorts decided that words such as colour and favour were too complicated, so they excised the "u." Why didn't they do the same for the word "pour?" Yet again, inconsistent meddling.

The English language is colourful. The spellings are interesting and often clearly show their etymology. There has to be standard spelling to reduce confusion. It is time someone told the Americans to get back in line. If they want to cut down on something, why not cut down on their obesity problem?

A committee should be set up and a recommendation made to outlaw all American bastardisations of the English language so that the world has a chance to learn one standard spelling.

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Shawn Barnett on March 09, 2011 at 2:10 PM:

The English folks in this old, very popular post should relax. Though the language is called English, Americans have long since out-written you in terms of words, and as your cultural descendants, we can't help that we like to change spellings, just as you've done for centuries. We're you, just a more populous and popular version, so you should get used to US, not the other way around.

As for which to use when, take the first initial of the version of English you're targeting:

Americans use "A" for Gray.
English use "E" for Grey.

It's pretty easy. What do they teach in schools these days?

And truly, uptight English posters, the American spellings are well-established for many generations. As an Anglophile myself, reading many English books, I used to try to spell the English way, but would get graded down for it. Grouse all you want, 50 million children would be foolish to follow your advice, and 200+ million adults won't change now. If you'd like to know more about the language, which long since ceased to be "yours" when you chose to colonize the world behind the barrel of a gun, buy Fowler's Modern English Usage and read it. He's English. You'll like him.

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G. Morris on March 10, 2011 at 10:45 AM:

Personally, you can spell any way you like as long as it is correct either in GB/UK or USA, what bugs me is when people are writing something and substitute "to" for "too" or vice-versa. Another one is "there" for "their" or even "they're" or any combination like that. Often it stops me from reading for a second until I figure it out. Like "That's just to radical for me", or "I want too be clear about this", it makes me have to read it again or just stop if there are many like that. Another thing that gets me is mispronunciation of words that are obviously not spelled like that. Take "mischievous" for example. So many people say "miss-CHEE-vee-us" and it's "MISS-chev-us"! Another good one is "Whooping cough". Most people pronounced it right when I was young, but now WAY too many people say "WOOP-ing" rather than the dictionary-correct "HOOP-ing". What are schools teaching these days?

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Brittney on March 10, 2011 at 5:55 PM:

I hate that there r 2 ways to spell it. It is just stupid.

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ku'ualoha on March 17, 2011 at 8:38 PM:

Easy rule of thumb to remember:

GRAY - A is for America version
GREY - E is for England version (although they are not
the only ones who spell it with an E)

G-R-A(merica)-Y
G-R-E(ngland)-Y

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mike on March 18, 2011 at 8:31 AM:

I find it funny that people continue to comment about this six-year-old post. Yet here I am adding to it. I remember it being grey when I was younger and it seems like it's just sort of morphed into gray through the years. As provincial as you Brits, Canadians, etc. want to get, however, it makes sense phonetically as gray. Say, bay, stay, tray, play, pray. And prey. By the way, how do you pronounce key? Or cay? We could be here all dey....

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OldRider on March 23, 2011 at 2:25 PM:

If we are to accept any kind of spelling, what for expending millions in developing dictionaries and grammar and spelling books?
Why bother in teaching to our children?
What for carry on discussing about?
Let everybody spell and pronounce at their heart content.
Mind you, remember that the US people has done that with many, many other words and with characteristic arrogance try to imposes it on everybody else.
There is also abhorrent examples of this not only in spelling; we also find it in EXACT SCIENCES like mathematics where somebody, unilaterally; decided to change "thousand millions in billions and billions in trillions".
We can see an attitude in all this when we observe the pejorative way they talk about immigrants, when they themselves are ALL immigrants.
They call themselves AMERICANS as if there are no more americans.- We find more americans outside the USA
I can pass hours giving you examples of this kind, but I'll stop here by asking not to misinterpreting me; I'M NOT RACIST OR ANTIAMERICANS OR ANY OTHER KIND OF ANTI.
God bless you all

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simon on March 30, 2011 at 12:11 AM:

good suggestions. Your gray is color helped some confused people including me

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Jordan on March 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM:

What about for human names as opposed to colo(u)rs?

"Grey g-rey as a boy's name is a variant of Gray (Old English), and the meaning of Grey is "gray-haired". "

Sooo.... while saying that "gray" is American and England's usage is only "grey," are you turning your back on Old English????

Now I'm even more confused.... Please send comments on that.

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Lance on April 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM:

Lots of fun comments here. While Americans say they speak English, most people around the world call it American.

Keeping track of gray/grey confused me for a bit until I created the following mnemonic. A = American; E = English.

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Charlotte on April 17, 2011 at 5:00 AM:

This site is amazing. So many people, so many comments, so many years. And so many hours worth of reading. Skimmed some, read some. Very amusing. Who knew spelling could be so fun. I came onto this site to check my spelling (I was sure it was spelled G-R-E-Y) but got so much more. Thanks!

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Anonymous on May 02, 2011 at 6:38 PM:

@Peter Lagoon
According to http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-color/:
> The list of basic color keywords is: aqua, black, blue, fuchsia, gray, green, lime, maroon, navy, olive, purple, red, silver, teal, white, and yellow. The color names are case-insensitive.
About spelling:
> 4.3. Extended color keywords
>
> The table below provides a list of the X11 colors [X11COLORS] supported by popular browsers with the addition of gray/grey variants from SVG 1.0. The resulting list is precisely the same as the SVG 1.0 color keyword names. This specification extends their definition beyond SVG. The two color swatches on the left illustrate setting the background color of a table cell in two ways: The first column uses the named color value, and the second column uses the respective numeric color value.
So it works well...

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Brandon on May 25, 2011 at 9:15 PM:

Just kidding...we went with Gray. Not giving a reason. Don't want to fuel any fires either way.

Thank you all for the fun read. We are putting this in our son's memory book about his name. Just in case he needs to explain anything.

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Brandon on May 25, 2011 at 9:26 PM:

My original post didn't show up...

As many others had done, I too looked up the difference between GrAy and GrEy. My wife and I are having a son and we like the name for his middle name. I like A and my wife likes E.
I read all of the posts (yes...all of them). I passed on all of my new found knowledge to my wife and she was shocked that I could read that much.

I understand the English heritage and the argument of origins vs. the evolution of speech and dialect. I have seen how borders of land and mind have stunted conversations.

So after much discussion and research, we decided to name him...Douglas.

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sabir tehseen on May 26, 2011 at 2:21 AM:

i realy thanks for this coreection.

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biggoodwolf on May 28, 2011 at 7:52 AM:

Forget your English English, American English, Canadian English, Strine English and all their variants. In Scots (our own language) the spelling has been "gray" for centuries and I hope will continue just to be different. There is no such thing as standard spelling in archaeolinguistics, just what we understand in our own language areas, and so-called standard English is simply a set of instructions to beat unsuspecting children's "gray" matter into a pulp of uniformity. I wood have grate difficultie imajining a grey or gray wooluf anyway, as they are all multyckullered furry beasties and just as bewtifull whitchevr cind uv fir thay huv. I'm fond of all shades of the unmentionable colour. I have heard that on the webternet, that standard English of whatever variety is now a minority pastime, superceded by the forms spoken from Shanghai to Singapore. I look forward to more variants. Lots of grayness to all...

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Jenn on May 28, 2011 at 3:12 PM:

I came across this while doing research for a paper on the metric system in Latin America. How odd. I found it quite an interesting read. Now if you can answer this quandry I have had for many years with the correct answer I will be very happy. What is the difference between blond and blonde. I was told many years ago that blond is used for males and females, where blonde is exclusivly for females, then I was told something different by someone else. I have searched for the answer ever since the internet has entered our houese and every time I get a different response. Now that is a real quandry.

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Isabel on June 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM:

I like to use grey. All of my friends, however, like to use gray, and are constantly telling me that I'm wrong. Thank you for clearing things up.

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Rose on June 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM:

In America, there are way too many questions about spelling certain words. I know how it is pronounced, but if it is someone from somewhere else, they are not going to understand it. Like, good and food, how does that have a different sound when it is spelt the same. Speak and steak, and live and live, read and read, and so on. Still today I ask myself why this is what it is? In forein countries, they have accents on letter to give its name. No confussion there. ONLY IN AMERICA!!!!

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Rocelee on June 27, 2011 at 1:12 PM:

I am a nurse and during my last duty,I was describing a wound in my notes.As I was charting the surrounding color of the wound which is gray,my colleague told me that my spelling for gray is incorrect.I told her that this has been the spelling I know since I was in grade school so I wrote what I believe was the correct one but on the other hand I wondered why she has a different spelling so I checked the net and I got in here.Thanks for this site,now I got the clear answer,neither of us was incorrect.She is from Malaysia and uses British English while I am used to American English being from Philippines.

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Angel on June 27, 2011 at 11:47 PM:

I have a 5 year old named Greyson. We looked for almost 9 months to find the perfect name for our little one. I saw Grayson in many books and online sites and never liked it. Then one day I saw Greyson written somewhere and fell in love with the name. He will probably be spelling his name to people his whole life but with our long, hard to spell last name he would be doing that anyway. lol.

Thanks for this post. It's cool to see it's still so popular so many years after you wrote it. :)

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Terry Gee on July 13, 2011 at 5:48 AM:

I think this is brilliant; seven years after the original post, people are still searching for the difference between grey and gray and finding Bernie's blog.

Thank you Bernie; being a British born boy I had simply forgotten which was which and am so glad this has been cleared up. I think I will continue to use both in my writings - just because!

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Andi on July 16, 2011 at 4:42 PM:

wow! thanks for this knowledge i will add it to my knowledge box!!!! sorry... I'm kinda a dork!

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michael jackson on July 25, 2011 at 6:41 PM:

thanks a lot for clearing this up, i had always wondered

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Jeff on July 26, 2011 at 3:34 PM:

By definition, and By Golly (not Jolly ... because like Jeffrey or Jeffery, it shouldn't be spelled with a J) ... Me thinks the A's have it!

[Old English grǣg; related to Old High German gro, Old Norse grar ]

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Derek Thompson on August 01, 2011 at 6:20 AM:

It's certainly a grey area! And sometimes a gray area too!

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Emma on August 14, 2011 at 7:51 PM:

I was in the 4th grade. Every evening, our teacher would give us a list of words to learn over night. We were supposed to study them for a spelling bee the next day. We would all stand up in a line, and as each of us would get a word to spell, we could stand as long as we got them right until the last person standing would be the winner of the bee. I never studied the word list because I knew very well how to spell just about every word that was in our book. Well, the bee began and I was 5th to get a word. The word was "blew". I spelled the word "blue". She gave it to me 2 times and I missed both times. I was so disappointed I had to sit down so quickly. I couldn't wait to get to my desk and check out
the word list. Well, there it was, plain as can be, the word was "blew". Because I did not study my word list, I did not know that she was speaking about not the color blue but the verb, blew as in: He blew his horn himself. I feel for you because I know exactly how you must have felt.

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Susanne Ellis on August 20, 2011 at 9:10 AM:

Depends on who wins: my grey matter upstairs
bouncing off my gray head of hair. Almost always the grey brain prevails.

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Sheri on September 02, 2011 at 10:33 PM:

It is my understanding that grey is a hue of silver and that gray is a shade between black and white. Either way, I've been told that grey is the UK way and gray is US way. Now, I'm trying to spelling the word according to what color/colour I intend to portray.

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Brittany on September 16, 2011 at 4:55 PM:

I'm about to send a txt to my boyfriend asking if it's GRAY & gloomy where he lives @. I wasn't sure if I was spelling it correctly & didn't want to feel like an idiot. So I just typed up the word GRAY & it led me to this site. Thanks!

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Lisa on September 20, 2011 at 10:44 AM:

I love your story about the spelling be. And thank you so much for your explanation. I found myself questioning my spelling of grey and so I also googled it and found your blog post. So I'll spell it g-r-e-y today and maybe g-r-a-y the next time.

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Melissa on September 25, 2011 at 8:29 AM:

How did a discussion about the spelling of a word turn into an opportunity to bash Americans? It's natural that the language will evolve differently in different regions of the world, and that's just fine. It doesn't mean that anyone is linguisticallly superior. Geez. Anyway, thanks for the clarification. It's good to know that lots of people wondered about this issue like I did.

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Glenn on September 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM:

As someone who does editing for both English speaking citizens of the United States and English speaking citizens of Europe, I find I have to be aware of spelling differences as well as differences in punctuation of sentences. I have made it a practice to use gray for the U.S. and grey for those across the Pond.

As someone closing in on 70 years of age, I was taught early in my childhood to use gray to define color or mood. (Ex. (1) The book cover is gray. (2) According to his mood ring, he is feeling a bit gray today.)

The only time I used grey was for someone's name or quoting someone's writing where they used the word grey.

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John of Oz on September 29, 2011 at 10:52 PM:

And for those who don't recognise irony:
A hearty congratulations Bernie on such an epic blog thread.
However me thinks that many have forgotten the gist of communications is not the importance of that which is broadcast, rather the message is that which is understood by the recipient.

For instance; I knew immediately that when the term "deep-seeded" was used above, the writer actually meant deep seated, others may not. When Mike Grey complained about people dropping the G and having a requirement for him to spell his name, I knew immediately that 1) he was the victim of having a name which could phonetically be spelt in two ways (at least) and 2) he was a lazy cad who runs his words together; for only without R-tic-u-lation (that is the state of grace of being articulate) the name Mike grey becomes mikeray so if he wants people to spell it correctly he had better say it correctly. As is so often the case, as the argue has appeared many time above "I prefer it because it is spelt as it sounds", people become lazy in pronunciation, and then consequently the spelling is changed to match the 'new', 'simplified' and 'incorrect' pronunciation. And so paedophile (paid-o-file) was simplified once when the accent over the ae was dropped to accommodate typewriters (the machine not the occupation) while its sound remained unchanged until lazy pronunciation (especially in the United States - but not the Americas) saw it changed again to pedofile/pedophile, which really should mean someone who likes feet.
My point is, for those posters who said things like "It is my understanding that grey is ... while gray is..." or "I've always used ..." think not about what you write - think rather about what the recipient reads. The important message is what is understood at the other end. If their is a local custom/rule/guide/convention and your readers will be local stick to the rules. If you are communicating into another area and want to be understood be flexible enough to use their conventions, or risk the wrong message Which is correct - the one which engenders the desired response from the recipient.

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Farsh on October 13, 2011 at 10:38 AM:

loved the grey is a colour, gray is a color quote

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Que Duncan on October 15, 2011 at 6:05 PM:

Some very good points have been made....so, what are our schools teaching our chicldren (English in America). Learning does not begin and end with our schools. Influences from home are requiured too. Besides those above, there is one that annoys me the most....Shrimps! Shrimp is plural. Thus, the English language is the most difficult to learn. And, if one is not taught the proper rules of our language, one will not know it correctly.

My take with grey vs. gray is basic..let's not stray, for standarization is a plus for any nation!

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Eric on October 19, 2011 at 9:38 AM:

I am Canadian. Now that this fact is known, I can continue.

Many people (Canadians included) assume the the "correct" Canadian spelling or words is the British usage. In fact, Canadian dictionaries define both US and UK spellings as "correct", and usually will also list the most "common" usage.

For me, I will use the "ize" suffix over the "ise", simply because of how it sounds to my ear. I will use "center" to mean the middle, and "centre" to reference a place. I use "check" for a mark on a page (or a delightful element of our national sport), but "cheque" for a banking instrument. Both of these examples help avoid ambiguity.

I also use "aluminum" over "aluminium", and defer to the shortened "or" in color, neighbor, etc. I do so, because I converse in written form to both Americans and Canadians, and I find Canadians generally get less twisted up over the choice. Having said that, for some reason unknown only to me, I still ask for a favour, and prefer my grey car.

I write this sitting on a chesterfield, drinking my double-double, celebrating the socially-acceptable diversity found within my native country.

Now, should you prefer do debate the merits of health care, that would be more worthy of much of the animosity I have witnessed in some of these posts.

E.

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Kris on November 10, 2011 at 12:44 AM:

As I read this site (frustrated after having typed the word grey into a writing program and having it come up as spelled incorrectly) I was absolutely amazed. I am an American and have always spelled grey with an "e". I include this information for any statisticians with the hutzpah to dig through this sucker. Yes, I used the English not Yiddish definition of hutzpah as I'm not Jewish and what it means to me is: balls or courage, for the faint of heart;)

I've laughed, I've cried (from laughing) and I must give my thanks to the founder of this page. I confess I did not manage to read every entry but I felt compelled to leave my testament in what appears to be perhaps the most epic recorded history of human kind's beliefs and views on the English language; centering on the word grey.

Who would have known the spelling of one of my favorite colors (sorry, colours just doesn't work for me but at least now I know my spelling is technically incorrect) could inspire so much passion from people all around the world?

Any time I feel blue (not bleu, though I would use that spelling in the name Le Cordon Bleu, sorry Dave) I will return here. This site is as enjoyable as it is educational. I'm glad I'm not alone in my love of it as evidenced by the countless numbers of people who have read and commented.

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steve on November 12, 2011 at 6:18 PM:

Thanks for the clarification. I was looking up the phrase "grey areas" and found yours.

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Shaun on November 13, 2011 at 12:47 PM:

Thanks for the clarification, and I have to say, this post has been running for 7 years, I might be able to show this to my kids if you guys keep the debate going.
I personal prefer "grey" as I was taught that way in New Zealand.

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charlie on December 02, 2011 at 10:48 PM:

i'm a yank, born and bred, and i have rarely seen it spelled anything BUT "grey". if anything, i thought the "gray" spelling might be british!

i now know better, but it is a wild overstatement to say that gray is the "american form". at best it is a "variant", even here.

as someone above pointed out, GREYhound is a US
company and US manufacturers put out GREY crayons. nuff sed!

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katie baker on December 15, 2011 at 12:50 PM:

So,
Gr"a"y is "A"merican
and
Gr"e"y is "E"nglish,

yes?

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Malchome on January 04, 2012 at 6:09 AM:
Brian on January 09, 2012 at 3:18 PM:

In the US i was all for using Grey, but now that i know it is a colour i will stay away from it. ;)

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Glen on January 11, 2012 at 9:30 AM:

As a surname, Gray is a predominantly Scot name common to the parts of Northumberland which are north of Hadrian's Wall. Gray is a recognized subclan of the Southerland Clan, a branch of the Royal Stewarts. Grey is the English cousins from below Hadrian's Wall, especially common in the English Northumberland. To be a Gray is to be Scot. To be a Grey is to be English.

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Mary Day Yadon on January 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM:

I can't believe this conversation has gone on so long... Thank you for the answer to a co-worker's question.
I have personally always thought grey looked better and so have always used that version, but did not have a reason.
I am an American, but love all things British. I had a British boyfriend for awhile, but it was too hard to keep the long distance thing going.
The British people and their language are beautiful to me.
I don't care if we left there a long time ago or anything. I loved visiting there, and they have all different dialects just like we do. They have the best voices and I love to hear them speak. When I was there back in 1991, it was funny because they wanted ME to "talk" because it was funny for them to hear my "accent" which I really don't think I have. Their accents, which are just proper pronunciations, should be respected, as well as whatever way they want to spell things.
I love them, and will continue to use "grey". If my daughter ever loses a spelling bee because of that word, I will be protesting!

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Alicia on January 14, 2012 at 5:52 AM:

ehmagawd this helped so much! thank u 4 posting this :)

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Corey on January 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM:

Seems a lot of the Brits are basically saying, "British English is the proper English because that is what I believe and I am obviously always right."

And you call Americans snobs?

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lee on January 21, 2012 at 6:46 PM:

Appreciate the info. I have a grey car and graying hair which had gotten me thinking, which was actually correct. Congrats on winning the spelling bee.

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Ming on January 25, 2012 at 12:51 PM:

I use "grey" because it sounds more formal, you know?

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Scott on January 26, 2012 at 4:37 PM:

Thanks this help resolve an argument about which way it is spelled. All started with my son doing home work on wolves being dogs.

Gray Wolf and Greyhound

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Sean on January 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM:

I was taught at an early age that 'Grey' is a person's name, while 'gray' is a color.

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Mark on January 29, 2012 at 8:08 PM:

I just went to see the Liam Neeson movie "The Grey". Great movie. Anyway, I had always seen Gray Wolves as g-r-a-y, but the movie title was g-r-e-y. Wondering about that brought me here. I assumed, anyway, that the title of the movie was chosen because of gray wolves. But most of that wolf species is in North America where it's spelled gray. But you know, it's no biggie. Great movie.

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A Gray on February 03, 2012 at 9:56 PM:

My last name is "Gray" and everyone tries to spell it "Grey." After 27 years I finally decided to google the difference so I could explain how to properly spell my last name. I used to tell people that Grey is fancy, and my name is just plain. I guess it goes along with your "color" vs. "colour." Maybe I have been right all along.

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Desmond on February 04, 2012 at 5:01 PM:

mmmmmmm it was hard to crack bt now is easy Grey- Gray so to shorting it they are all two colours as white and black thunks for this big brain in the world of coloure.......

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Phideauxe on February 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM:

8 years later and still getting comments!! Amazing. Google sent me here, just like everyone else. My only comment is that I'm always surprised at the animosity that the English and Canadians have toward Americans. And yet we love them back without fail. Our greatest friends and allies.

I guess it's hard to not be on top! Haha I know, that's why they hate us - arrogance!

P.S. I spell it grey because that was my 1st Grade Teacher's name - Mr. Grey. =)

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Ethan on February 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM:

I prefer to use it Gray but Grey I sometimes use too. I love how this thing still has been having comments for like 8 years lol :)

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Dinos Ore on February 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM:

Thanks for the help, now I can tell my friend Steg O'Sorus his spots are grey.

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Caroline Gray on February 26, 2012 at 7:20 AM:

My last name is Gray, so when I was little, I used to llget very mad when I would see it spelled 'grey'. I'm glad to know that both are correct, but I will still use 'gray' because it just feels right :)

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Iris on February 28, 2012 at 2:17 AM:

I'm from Portugal and I was taught "grey".

In Portugal it is customary to teach the British English instead of the American.

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I Disllike BO on February 28, 2012 at 7:50 PM:

Dear Bo... uncool I'm American and yes I think grey looks nicer but there was no need to go crazy on Americans. Calm yourslef man

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SimplyRead on February 29, 2012 at 7:35 AM:

I'm a writer-editor and a mega Prince fan, so naturally I have to ask: what does Prince have to do with the spelling of grey?

(and I'm a bit offended at your tyranny with needing people to check that box, but I'll bite anyway 'cause I DO hate SPAM...)

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beday on February 29, 2012 at 10:11 PM:

well spelling is important..Maybe there will be changes in using it either formal or informal.

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Kayla on March 04, 2012 at 7:56 PM:

I don't understand why this is such a big issue. Each country and region has its own dialect and spellings. Not everywhere an individual travels will the language they know be spoken the same. For example, the Spanish spoken in Spain is different from the same language spoken in Columbia. Being American and also a history major, I've noticed how languages evolve over time. Also, isolation and distance can create fluctuations in spellings and speech. This is the reason for the differences between American English and British English. There is no correct and incorrect method of spelling "grey" and "gray".

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Cheryl on March 09, 2012 at 10:59 AM:

Wow, what a debate.
I am American, and have always spelled the color "grey". One of my friends recently keeps spelling it gray, thus bringing me here to this site. To me that looks wrong. There was a family in my hometown, "The Grays", and as a kid I held them personally accountable for what I felt was the incorrect way to spell it. Now I find that they were just of Scottish descent.

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Diana on March 09, 2012 at 5:24 PM:

Thanks for resolving this for me. I had looked this up a few years ago and finding that both were acceptable, decided on using the gray spelling. As an American Kindergarten teacher, I realized that the -ay ending qualified it to be in the -ay family of rhyming words and makes simple sense for a 5-6 year old. It is very unusual for teachers to teach the -ey family. I'm glad to learn that my decision was the right choice for use in America.

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Ben on March 22, 2012 at 6:22 PM:

Wow. This post will be a decade old in two years. Apparently the internet really wants a definitive answer on this whole "grey" "gray" thing. I like grey personally. My $.02.

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Hal Diggs on March 26, 2012 at 8:34 AM:

I agree with Ben, WOW! I just wanted to be in the comment list since I was looking for the answer myself. I am one of those that was bitten early and told 'gray' was the correct spelling. For years I kept typing 'grey' and then had to remind myself to correct it... NEVER AGAIN!

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Kp on March 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM:

Sorry but it's eidetic memory, you do not have 'photographic' memory.

ps: I prefer grey, not gray & I'm American. I'm not sure why, but I just do not like gray. I've alllwayyss spelled it grey.

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linda on April 07, 2012 at 4:01 PM:

My pet peeve (or is it peave) is the trend of starting a sentence with So (no offense Claire June 8, 2005) as in "So I was working at my office...". Texting is the worst thing that ever happened to the ability to spell correctly due to abbreviations and acronyms. I am an American but I think British people have so much more class than we do and we should follow their lead. We murder the english language (both in spelling and pronunciation) and really should call our language "american" since we are wrong. If we are going "global" we need to change rather than have the rest of the world change to be wrong like us.

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Dee on April 09, 2012 at 7:55 PM:

I'm American and still spell it Grey... Gray is ugly and just seems wrong.

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Loretta Friend on April 13, 2012 at 5:59 AM:

Love Bo's response near the beginning. Ha ha! I'm Amarican and you are so right!

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Mark on April 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM:

Why must Americans change the spelling of actual English words? Is it to make it easier for Americans to spell them?

(IE: Colour = Color, Grey = Gray, Armour = Armor, "All Correct" = "OK")

Ok, just had to throw that last one in there. :)

Yep, every English speaking nation in the world spells it one way and Americans end up changing it to make it easier.

Seriously, stop "dumbing-down" the English language and we won't think your intellectually challenged.

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Ryan on April 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM:

Armour and Colour evolved into Armor and Color. The "u" became vestigial and therefore removed. Vestigial simply means no longer functional. In evolution, biological entities will evolve leaving behind traces of their past that no longer has a use. This can be said of non-biological devices created by humans. The British that chose to evolve became Americans, while the ones that didn't became vestigial.

With regard to the spelling grey v.s gray, they have both been adopted as separate shades of color at this website: http://cloford.com/resources/colours/500col.htm
Although gray is more widely used, it is probably to afford at least an attempt at political peace. However they may just want to sell more wallpaper.

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Gray on April 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM:

Amazing, the first time I've Googled grey/gray and see this site. The original posting was more than six years ago - excellent. I'm from NZ which is apparently a 'grey' spelling country. But, I've always spelt it 'gray' because this spelling sounds like the colour looks.

Colour should always be colour though, never color :)

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Ryan on April 30, 2012 at 12:38 AM:

I will also add that the only reason why words like Armour and Colour (and other examples) are spelled that way was in the year 1066 the Normans (French), invaded and conquered the Anglo-Saxons in England. And even though it was inadvertantly England's fault they let themselves be taken over, the French were the ones who bastardized the language because the French language was "injected" over many years.

It's good that somebody straightened all that out and got us back to something more original. I reserved the right to use the French modifed versions in case I ever want to sound pompous, because let's face it, that's really what it means.

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Stars and Stripes on April 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM:

Wow! Nearly eight years worth of comments on this issue so far!

The United States was once the greatest industrial power on earth. In the USA it was not only correct to use "gray", the expression was one of many that set us apart from the Kings and Queens land and tongue.

I'll choose gray over grey because the USA is still not a colony of some distant and pompous little rock.

For a stylish and contemporary alternative to "grey", one might consider "gris", as an homage to one of the languages that may soon replace English in the USA as the most popular.

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Ryan on May 01, 2012 at 3:29 PM:

Lol @ Star and Stripes

In regard to the possible replacement of English in the United States, if your intention for "gris" was because it translates to gray in Spanish, then you have a point. However, "gris" is also gray in French. Thereby, allowing the French to have the last laugh..and we can't have that.

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Marey on May 01, 2012 at 8:29 PM:

I had just composed a blog about "Grey Divorce" and the site I linked back to spelled it "gray divorce". i thought, "What is up with that?" and that's how I ended up on this very nostalgic blog.

I was peeved to see that because I'm writing "American" - that I had to change the way I spelled it to "gray". Wish it was different, but it isn't. Btw, I usually spell color as colour too. God bless the Brits.

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Dan on May 07, 2012 at 6:58 AM:

I've always had trouble figuring out which spelling was the American version. After reading your article, it became crystal clear. grAy is for American. grEy is for English. Done! Finally.

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Debi on June 08, 2012 at 5:15 PM:

Because of the crayon, I always thought "grey" was to describe a bluish tone of what would otherwise be known as "gray" when it was a mixture of black and white. I have been enlightened!

Did you know the spelling can change depending on how a word is used in a sentence? The word "milk" is a noun or a verb. But when it is used as an adjective to describe the cow that gives the milk it's spelled "milch". So, if the occasion presents that one finds themselves describing...or in a spelling bee that asks, "Milk as describing a milch cow" you will be victorious. Come to think of it, I have seen brown ones, and black and white ones, but I don't think I have ever seen a grey milch cow!

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Patrice on June 19, 2012 at 4:03 PM:

I was born in the U.S. and learned to spell it "grey" over half a century ago. Maybe it was because most of my ancestors came from the British Isles, over 130 years ago. I was never challenged on the spelling at school, but that is perhaps because I went to private schools for most of my education. I always assumed I was correct, and made allowances for people who were less educated and/or "cultured" than me. I'm not likely to change how I spell it at this late date, but it is interesting to know why there are two spellings.

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Tom on June 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM:

Can we settle this by spelling the word "graey"?

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Timesink on June 26, 2012 at 2:51 PM:

Thanks for the clarification, and great replies everyone!

The whole US vs UK thing is rather tiresome. According to the internet, all British view the Americans as illiterate and the Americans view the British as snobs. Got to love stereotypes!

I think the actual truth is that most British people couldn't give a shit how the Americans (or anyone) spells most words since the average Brit wouldn't know it was spelt incorrectly! (Btw, I'm English).

As long as American films and television continue to pervade everyone else's airwaves we'll all be brought gently round to their way of things anyway without ever realising it!

P.S. Can you make officially make Britain the 51st state? I'd like to live move to somewhere warm without the hassle of getting a green card. Cheers!

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IceQueen1994 on July 10, 2012 at 3:37 PM:

Thanks for the interesting discussion.
Congratulations on your spelling prowess.

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Chris on July 21, 2012 at 3:57 PM:

Grey is the correct spelling in England and the rest of Great Britain and as the English language belongs to England then the way they spell words is always the correct way, therefore grey is how you spell grey and colour is how you spell colour. Just because English is the first language of other nations doesn't mean they get to change how to spell any of the words

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Dan on July 23, 2012 at 9:14 AM:

Grey is the correct way.

Gray is American. ;)

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Bob on July 29, 2012 at 11:16 AM:

No... GRAY is correct... Being an American and all!

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Rox on July 30, 2012 at 7:01 AM:

My last name's Gray. I'm from one of the commonwealth countries, so we go with the British spelling. Honestly, when people got mixed up I'd tell them, Gray the name not the. Colour (grey). Unfortunately, I'm only on this wondrous. Page because I just read the 50 shades of...... And apparently Mr. Grey had gray eyes....I was like "what kind of foolishness!?!!!!" So I googled it and ended up here. Clearly, there's no right or wrong, just your personal choice, we can't will one of them into non-existence. Thanks for this website though....Bernie you're awesome, loved your wrap up!!!

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Courtney on August 05, 2012 at 12:01 PM:

Why are we all debating about this? The person who answered our question gave their reason and it proves a valid point. Gray is in fact a color but, grey is a colour. So, why the debates on who's wrong? England/Great Britain/ The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, did in fact (and still does) spell it 'grey'. America/ United States, most definitely does spell it 'gray'. It is quite common here in America to spell the 'color' as gray. Unless, you are in fact like me and like to spell the 'colour' as grey. Just because we Americans don't spell or say things the way you would like them to be spelled or said in Britain or Canada, or the way you're comfortable spelling them, it does not, in any circumstance or opinion, give anyone the right to criticize the way other people feel comfortable spelling things. Do not think that just because England was where English came from, it has to be done that way. Let me tell you, the Americans, including myself, could care less what you think we're doing wrong. We won our independence from you therefore, we don't have to listen to your thoughts on OUR country. We are definitely not your 'little colony' anymore. The end. Oh, and as for some of the Canadians and their posts, your country (no offense at all) is our hat. Pointing out that, you may not like our style, but what is really funny about that is, you wear the same new fashions, you listen to OUR music on your radio stations, and you're barely noticed when it comes to our two countries. If I were in that situation, I certainly wouldn't criticize my next door neighbor. Oh wait, excuse me if you think I'm wrong, 'Neighbour'.
P.S.- Thank you so very much for your explanation.
~Courtney

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Courtney on August 05, 2012 at 12:30 PM:

I do indeed hope that SteveJ comes back to look at this post.
You think we are rebelling. You think we have and obesity problem. Yes, one of those is correct but, you need to learn to mind your p's and q's since that's what you've most likely been told all of your childhood. Since you're being so stereotypical, I will myself. I thought that and Englishman like you would be gentleman enough to, at least, try and deliver your angry message in a nicer way. (Considering the fact that you seem to think so poorly of us here in the US.) Your country isn't the power it once was and even more so, your placing in the Olympics is pitiful might I add. (Had to get that out of my system. USA!) That is neither here nor there, what I'm trying to get at is, don't call ALL Americans ignorant or obese unless you can be man enough to come and say it to our faces or be smart enough to actually visit our great country. By the way- Color. Favorite. Gray. Like I said before, we aren't your 'little colony' anymore so, we don't care what you think about our spelling. Oh, and, Watch what you say. Karma never disappoints. I hope you do try and come up with better things to address about our country besides the old news we care next to nothing about.
Thank you again.
~Courtney

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Mark on August 06, 2012 at 5:08 AM:

Then again, non-native speakers of English need to have this cleared up. As far as I know, in all European countries British English is taught, not American, and that will probably stay that way.

A much more serious matter, however, is the outdated spelling of English (and French) in general. Especially native speakers seem to have a hard time figuring out why of, say, 7 ways of spelling the same sound is correct. ee ea y i ei(gh) ie ey / o oa ou(gh) ow (e)au ;)

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Karen Kennedy on August 15, 2012 at 2:27 AM:

I found this site, like most, after researching gray v grey and found the information useful and logical. I didn't expect to find seven years worth of discussions but have found them fascinating all the same.

The aggression and small mindedness, expressed by some, has been a huge surprise and very sad. Give up with all the childishness.

As long as we can understand what colour we all mean does it truly matter?

Thank heavens this discussion wasn't about the colour taupe.

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John Gray on August 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM:

This has plagued me my whole life... Thank you for clarifying. -John Gray

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Mathew Campbell on September 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM:

I don't think the fact that Americans spell English words differently should really matter to anyone. Fortunately the word is still recognisable (recognizable?). The fact is, the English language isn't particularly well defined and language evolves anyway.

Consider how the spelling of a word is actually determined. Could you spell every word correctly after hearing it? Could you pronounce every word correctly after seeing its spelling? The English language is quite variable and it has never been particularly uniform. Personally I'm all for a redefinition of English spellings. It would help people learning the language: http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/nuspelynh.html

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DJ on September 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM:

Most of the Americans that I have met are among the most intelligent and thoughtful people I know. But the key point is that I met them outside of the US, the ones that have travelled and lived abroad, who make the effort to understand the perspective of others. I've met the cream of the crop. When was the last time you lived abroad Courtney? I don't mean holidays where you play the tourist and remark how small everything is (to use a stereotype). Let me guess, never or you would not be using such a disrespectful and juvenile tone. You claim they do not have the right to critisize how you spell or speak yet you do the exact same thing a line later. I have visited your 'great' country (which is also not the power it once was) and honestly prefer China.
As for UK Olympians, finishing 3rd in the world is an incredible finish considering, and taking gold medals as a percentage of population the UK trounces the top 2. Truely punching above their weight. What is 'pitiful' is the USA's placing in the Paralympics. 6th. Behind Ukraine. I hope YOU come back to read the posts following yours Courtney and apologise for your idiocy. Though not until after your mental age has reached double digits. Know your place, which judging by your attitude is in some kind of manners school. Your assurance is karma never fails, well you've got it coming.
Someone earlier said (forget his name, it's not important) that US writings exceeded UK writings and thus the language belongs to them. Just because something is oft repeated does not make it correct. We need to look no further than Courtneys post where she states she 'could care less'. This is quite clearly wrong, as the true expression is 'could not care less' yet is has been repeated so often now it is acceptable, even though it doesn't make a lick of sense and is in fact promoting the opposite view of what it means to say.
Getting back on topic, I have long been aware of the dual spelling of grey/gray and have decided on my own uses for each, using 'grey' whenever I describe the sky, hair, stones etc i.e. something natural and the harsh looking gray to describe metalwork, plastics and man made items. It just seems to fit the spellings of the word to my mind better. But that's my own little game. There isn't a right or wrong here, just what is more common. I don't mind others customising language, although I prefer when they come up with new words ratehr than modify existing ones. The shows of Joss Whedon are full of non existant words, yet the dialogue is so eloquently written that they make perfect sense.
Where there is a right and wrong is concerning Aluminium. Aluminium is correct, aluminum isn't. Conversely Sulfur *shudder* is correct and Sulphur isn't. This is decided by the official international body that governs element names, and these are the spellings they have decided. End of. Of course this will not stop me using sulphur as is my perogative. At least when said aloud it sounds the same. Additionally, the way I say colour you can definitely hear the 'u', I'd pronounce it far differently if spelt color, just like I'd pronounce 'com' different from 'comb' despite the apparent 'silent' letter.

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Cat on September 30, 2012 at 6:53 AM:

Omg I'm so glad I found this on google, saved me a lot of confusion! It was driving me crazy!

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Carol on October 13, 2012 at 12:26 PM:

My late grandfather's name was Harold Gray and that is how I learned that grey is a colour and Gray a surname. lol But seriously, I think all of the above comments have a point and one should use the spelling accordingly. I like the one with "e" being England and "a" America. Incidently, my grandfather's family came from England and settled in South Africa. And I did in the past get a little hot under the collar when anyone used the gray word as a colour! I am a spelling freak.

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Beamer Smith on October 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM:

Ha.. I try very hard to use the original Canadian (I'm from Canada) spelling where ever I can.. Microsoft pulled an interesting trick though.. If you use the default English-US, either spelling of the usual words of difference - colour/color, grey/gray et al - you will find they resolve as both correct, but if you set your default to English-UK, all the "Americanized" worrds becomes errors to be corrected.. Nice work Microsoft in your attempt at world domination...
Oh, and to Courtney who sees Canada as the US's hat... Canadians see the US as our shorts. ;)

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Lee Slater on November 18, 2012 at 3:29 AM:

Will our North American and Australian cousin's please note. It is the 'Queen's' english after all.

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Grey Hjerte on November 20, 2012 at 5:34 AM:

I read through a ton of comments and finally got bored. One thing I noticed was that a lot of Canadians commenting on how Americans bastardized the English language.

Well I would like to comment about how the French from France say the exact same thing about the Québécois from Canada and how they have bastardized their language, and have turned it into something similar to ghetto to hear them explain it, so maybe you should all shut your hypocritical mouths...

By the way, I'm an American who spells the word "gray", grey. It looks more like the color to me and that's it! I have GREY eyes.

Have a jolly day! Lol.

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jams on January 04, 2013 at 1:06 PM:

I agree with Karen. Different strokes for different folks. Don't put us down because we spell or look different. It would be a boring world if we were all the same.

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jekkyro on January 16, 2013 at 12:48 AM:

Psst....Mark (on April 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM:), you didn't finish you last sentence.

I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I just couldn't resist. [(Apologetic bow) x3]. I do think fondly of the "we" of whom you mentioned.

On a serious note... I'm glad that I have the choice of either for more nuanced writing.

P.s. More apologies for the overuse of ellipses, parentheses, and exclamation points. And...I learned the "grey" spelling first.

(Unbelievable! I just made the time span of the postings even longer... Unbelievable! It's 12:45 a.m.!)

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jekkyro on January 16, 2013 at 9:29 PM:

Sooo, fun! I got to bring darkgray and lightgrey and this lively blog up at my html/css class today.

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MIMI on January 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM:

To Dave on May 9th

Ironically, your whole response on May 9th, 2005 REEKS of pretension. The ASSumption that "us" Americans have simply simplified the spelling of a word (or words) of the language for which our language has originated is audacious. Furthermore ASSuming or declaring that "our" American versions are superior is quite like "biting the hand that feeds you." To imply so pompous and arrogantly that the British are pompous and arrogant is not only hypocritical, but also very ignorant.
I do agree with your later post regarding the importance of spelling changes. Yes, they are important and critical to evolution, however belittling the origins from which something has evolved is, in essence, a stpe backwards in evolution. Oh the irony spewed by the minds of the ignorant.

Your Truely,
A "True American"
A NATIVE AMERICAN
The original americans

Because quite frankly DAVE, you are all original immigrants and ironically the culture your bashing is more than likely your very own legacy

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Joshua Michael on March 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM:

I love this subject and w-o-w there are a lot of comments ... so I will lay it all out. I always enjoy seeing how people spell the color because it shows just who their underlying influence is. It all goes back to one 'divided' family ... the Gray family of Scotland spells the color with an 'e' while the Grey family of England spells the color with an 'a' ... and we all know how well the Scottish and English get along ;-) In effect, neither family wants to be known as just a color ... that's why they spell the color differently from their name ... and in so doing, they poke fun at the relatives! Very funny stuff !! But both seem to enjoy living in a fog. Their identities appear to hinge on just two letters .. 'a' and 'e'. Looking at Anglo-Saxon runes reveals that 'e' stands for 'horse' and 'a' stands for 'oak tree'. But it gets even better ... olde English actually combines both letters into one 'ae' ... which the runes say symbolize the 'ash tree' ... which rules them all !! For nothing lies outside the shade of an ash tree -- nothing but ashes !! Furthermore .. and I digress just a bit ... Unicorns cannot be chained ... what a silly concept! I love starting fights at family reunions !!!!!!!!!

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Joshua Michael on March 16, 2013 at 7:01 PM:

Sorry, I forgot to add ... it is Black & White to me ... haha!

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Millie on April 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM:

Wow! But is there really a difference, like effect and affect? 'Cause I still don't understand gray and gray, and effect and affect. Does it matter which I use? Thanks

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Bernie Zimmermann on April 29, 2013 at 9:01 PM:

Millie, the way I see it, "grey" and "gray" are sort of interchangeable depending on your background or based on other preferences (as can be seen throughout the comments on this post). However, "effect" and "affect" have very different meanings and should be used accordingly. Most notably, "effect" is a noun whereas "affect" is a verb.

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Vivek on May 05, 2013 at 8:12 PM:

Hi all,

I use GREY for indicating the colour Grey

and

GRAY when, Hair turns 'Gray'

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Robert on May 20, 2013 at 11:56 AM:

Least we forget to be careful when we "pray" when we "prey".

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Skyler on June 02, 2013 at 5:09 PM:

I use the spelling g-r-a-y I've been wondering why people spell it g-r-e-y but they are truly the same but I still like gray better. I do not know how I happened to find this be very happy I did.

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Anna on July 16, 2013 at 12:41 PM:

I always spell it "Gray"... That's how I was taught and that's how I spell. It has nothing to do with Americans being "Stupid"... It's a different country so, I don't get why people care so much about that.

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Sandra Bysinger on July 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM:

I have always needed a straight answer as to the correct spelling of gray/grey. I like the simple explanation "a" American "e" English "e" everything else that was placed here a few years back. I am certainly going to send this to my grandchildren just in case they get into a "tiff" with their teachers and that happens often these days! I'm sorry about the trauma over the spelling bee issues. I loved winning those in my elementary school days. I wonder how we spelled it back then as I type this? Now as I get older I misspell words often because I question my memory and that is why I use my dictionary more now than I did years ago. But, the one bright person who said "clearer" instead of "more clear" really bothers me. I wish I could have been an English teacher! Thank you for this great web discussion.

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Glen Buschmann on August 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM:

Ahh, distraction. I was writing about our travels to Ireland. At least I now feel correct writing of GREY skies and stones. But our differences in spelling are minimal compared to the differences in how we pronounce the same spelled words. As a visitor from northwest USA, in Ireland I failed to understand many spoken instructions.

The 20 May 2013 note about "prey" and "pray" reminds me that there IS a debate as to whether the correct spelling for the a certain familiar insect is "praying" mantis or "preying" mantis. That is a different blog.

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sam on November 04, 2013 at 12:21 AM:

I have always thought "Gray" is the right version and I have been always taught that way. That said, language can evolve and new things emerge. I guess people are using both versions now. As long as we understand each other!

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Bernzilla on January 05, 2014 at 9:55 PM:

I'm and American. I spell grey with an e. Just a born rebel I guess.

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Mike Hoffman on January 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM:

On a 4th grade spelling test we were asked to spell "gleam". I wrote gleem. In my bedroom was a cardboard box from the market which had contained Gleem toothpaste. I say that box everyday. Well I learned a valuable lesson which was don't trust anything coming out of Madison Avenue. BTW I now use Crest, it's spelled correctly.

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Jennifer White on February 16, 2014 at 4:03 PM:

I believe you have it backwards.
John Oxenham ( Manchester England-1852-1941) used the word hodden-gray in the poem "Weavers All". A hodden is an old Scottish garment made with wool of two different colours (black and white) that blend to make gray.

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Annette on February 17, 2014 at 10:30 PM:

Wow, who knew that in 2014 we would be commenting on an original blog from 2004. Hilarious!

I just looked on the internet for grey vs. gray and here I am. With everything so global - our products and media, it is a given that we will sometimes borrow the spelling from another country. I had no idea there was an "American standard" or an "English and everyone else standard" to the spelling of grey/gray. Most sites say either is OK. Coming from the US I have used both. Just a few minutes ago I wrote the word 'gray' twice, and 'grey' once, all in the context of the color. That's what got me started looking it up. I happen to like both but can't decide which I like the best.

I happen to have read a lot of books set in England so I see things spelled different ways than we do here. It just makes things interesting :-)

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mez on March 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM:

What kind of mamby pamby spelling bee asks you to spell the word "gray?" I'm guessing this wasn't on ESPN? :)

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