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Which is correct, the "grey" or "gray" spelling?

Have you often wondered "Am I spelling g-r-e-y correctly...or is it g-r-a-y?". How do you spell the color grey or gray? Well, the answer is they are both correct. There are two acceptable spellings. Gray is used primarily in the United States and other areas that use US English. Grey is used in Great Britain and areas that use UK English.

The only exceptions to these rules are:

1. Proper nouns such as a last name; Earl Grey and Zane Grey would not be spelled Gray and L.H. Gray must be always be spelled Gray.

2. Greyhound as in the dog breed.

3. Food irradiation (quantity of radiation energy absorbed by the food as it passes through the radiation field during processing). 1 Gray = 0.001 kGy = 1 joule of energy absorbed per kilogram of food irradiated.

When all else fails..

grAy is how it's spelled in America
grEy is how it's spelled in England

"Is it grey or gray?" is likely one of the most frequently asked questions in regards to common misspellings, however there are many other commonly misspelled words related to regional differences. In most cases American spellings seem to be a bit more phonetic. Here's a handy chart.

See the entire chart of Commonly Misspelled Words


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What is the difference between grey and gray?

According to a very comprehensive color charted provided by Clorford.com (a trusted resource on color swatches) grey and gray are actually two different "color swatches".

 

 

 

 

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.


Historical Footnote

samuel johnson picturegrey or gray icon graphic 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.

Meanwhile, in the United States, "gray" became standard somewhat earlier. Examining 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. So what is the difference between grey and gray? 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.

"No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous."
—Samuel Johnson, on the behavior of the British colonists in America; "An Introduction to the Political State of Great Britain.

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