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!
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 ¢¾
This difference in the styles of writing is the difference between formality and informality, or the difference between formal and informal writing.
Here's a list of some of the main differences between informal and formal writing:
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 searches for "" and "," 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 , 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 , 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:
Since you are more familiar with student versions ofacademic writing rather than the kinds of writing your professorsproduce within their professions, the summary below covers some ofthe key differences between classroom writing and businesswriting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you ask people to pick the best color to fit the name, gray and grey are two different colors.
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!
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.
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!