AskDefine | Define grey

Dictionary Definition

grey adj
1 an achromatic color of any lightness between the extremes of black and white; "gray flannel suit"; "hair just turning gray" [syn: gray, grayish, greyish]
2 showing characteristics of age, especially having gray or white hair; "whose beard with age is hoar"-Coleridge; "nodded his hoary head" [syn: gray, gray-haired, grey-haired, gray-headed, grey-headed, grizzly, hoar, hoary, white-haired]
3 used to signify the Confederate forces in the Civil War (who wore gray uniforms); "a stalwart gray figure" [syn: gray]
4 intermediate in character or position; "a gray area between clearly legal and strictly illegal" [syn: gray]
5 darkened with overcast; "a dark day"; "a dull sky"; "a gray rainy afternoon"; "gray clouds"; "the sky was leaden and thick" [syn: dull, gray, leaden]


1 United States writer of western adventure novels (1875-1939) [syn: Zane Grey]
2 Queen of England for nine days in 1553; she was quickly replaced by Mary Tudor and beheaded for treason (1537-1554) [syn: Lady Jane Grey]
3 Englishman who as Prime minister implemented social reforms including the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire (1764-1845) [syn: Charles Grey, Second Earl Grey]
4 any organization or party whose uniforms or badges are gray; "the Confederate army was a vast gray" [syn: gray]
5 a neutral achromatic color midway between white and black [syn: gray, grayness, greyness]
6 gray clothing; "he was dressed in gray" [syn: gray]


1 make gray; "The painter decided to grey the sky" [syn: gray]
2 turn gray; "Her hair began to gray" [syn: gray]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings





  1. Having a grey colour, as the ash of an ember.
  2. dreary, gloomy
  3. Having an indistinct or disputed quality


dreary, gloomy
indistinct quality
  • Dutch: grijs, grijze
  • French: gris, grise, grises
  • Japanese: グレー
  • Spanish: gris
  • Swedish: i en gråzon
  • Vietnamese: không , lờ mờ


  1. To become grey or cause to become grey.
    My hair is beginning to grey.


to become grey
  • Finnish: harmaantua
  • French: griser
  • German: ergrauen, grau werden
  • Irish: liath
  • Portuguese: acinzentar
  • Russian: сереть (serét’); (of hair) седеть (sedét’)
  • Swedish: gråna
  • Turkish: grileşmek
  • Vietnamese: bạc

Usage notes

There happens to be a handy mnemonic for remembering which spelling is used where: grey is the English spelling, while gray is the American spelling. However, grey is also frequently found in American English.

Derived terms


  1. An achromatic colour intermediate between black and white
    grey colour:   
  2. (ufology) the image of an extraterrestrial creature with gray skin, bulbous black eyes, and an enlarged head.


  • Bosnian: siv
  • Dutch: grijs
  • Esperanto: griza
  • Finnish: harmaa
  • French: gris
  • Galician: gris
  • German: Grau
  • Greek: γκρι (gri) , σταχτί (stakhtí) , φαιό (feó)
  • Hebrew: אָפוֹר (afór)
  • Irish: liath , (of animals, cloth, eyes) glas
  • Italian: grigio
  • Japanese: 灰色 (はいいろ, hai-iro), 鼠色 (ねずみいろ, nezumi-iro)
  • Latvian: pelēks
  • Polish: szarość
  • Portuguese: cinza
  • Romanian: gri
  • Russian: серый
  • Slovene: siva
  • Spanish: gris, plomo
  • Swedish: grå
  • Tagalog: abo
  • Turkish: gri
  • Vietnamese: màu xám
extraterrestrial creature

See also



grey (grey-s, grey-)
  1. a wretch, a pitiful person
    Greyið mitt!
    You poor little thing!
    Grey Jón..
    Poor John..

Extensive Definition

This article is about the color. For other uses, see Grey (disambiguation) and Gray (disambiguation).
Grey or gray (see spelling differences) describes any shade between black and white. Collectively, white, black, and the range of greys between them are known as achromatic colors or neutral colors. Greys are seen commonly in nature and fashion. Grey paints can be created by mixing complementary colors (that is colors directly opposite on the color wheel, e.g. yellow and violet). In the RGB color model used by computer displays, it is created by mixing equal amounts of red, green, and blue light. Images which consist wholly of neutral colors are called monochrome, black-and-white or greyscale.

In color theory

Most grey pigments have a cool or warm cast to them, as the human eye can detect even a minute amount of saturation. Yellow, orange and red create a "warm grey". Green, blue, or purple, create a "cool grey". When there is no cast at all, it is referred to as "neutral grey" or simply "grey". Two colors are called complementary colors if grey is produced when they are combined. Grey is its own complement. Consequently, grey remains grey when its color spectrum is inverted, and so has no opposite, or alternately is its own opposite.
Artists sometimes use the two different spellings to distinguish between strict combinations of black and white versus combinations that have elements of hue.

Web colors

There are several shades of grey available for use with HTML and CSS in word form, while there are 254 true greys available through Hex triplet. All are spelled with an a: using the e spelling can cause unexpected errors with outdated browsers (this discrepancy was inherited from the X11 color list), and to this day, Internet Explorer's Trident browser engine does not recognize "grey" and will not render it. Another anomaly is that "gray" is in fact much darker than the X11 color marked "darkgray;" this is because of a conflict with the original HTML gray and the X11's "gray," which is closer to HTML's "silver." The three "slategray" colors are not themselves on the greyscale, but are slightly saturated towards cyan (green + blue). Note that since there are an even (256, including black and white) number of unsaturated shades of grey, there are actually two grey tones straddling the midpoint in the 8-bit grayscale. The color name "gray" has been assigned the lighter of the two shades (128 also known as #808080), due to rounding up. In browsers that support it, "grey" has the same color as "gray."

Light (RYB)

red (●) + yellow (●) + blue (●) = white (●)

Pigment (GVO)

green (●) + violet (●) + orange (●) = black (●)

Color coordinates

Grey values result when r = g = b, for the color (r, g, b): Grey values are produced by c = m = y = 0, for the color (c, m, y, k). Lightness is adjusted by varying k. In theory, any mixture where c = m = y is neutral, but in practice such mixtures are often a muddy brown (see CMYK#Why black ink is used).:Greys result whenever s is 0 or undefined, as is the case when v is 0 or l is 0 or 1

In human culture

  • In a moral sense grey is either used
    • pejoratively to describe situations that have no clear moral value, or
    • positively to balance an all-black or all-white view (for example, shades of grey represent magnitudes of good and bad).
  • In folklore, grey is often associated with goblin folk of several kinds. Scandinavian folklore often depicts their gnomes and nisser in grey clothing. This is partly because of their association with dusk, partly because these races, including elves (see below), often are outside moral standards (black or white).
Literature / Film / Music
  • The Grey Council consists of the nine leaders of the Minbari in the Babylon 5 universe.
  • Grey's Anatomy is a popular drama tv series. The name suggests that the show might be more factual than it is in reality.
Sociology Sound Engineering
  • Aging hair is often perceived as being grey although it is actually white, because white hairs next to other colors look comparatively darker. Hence grey is associated with the elderly, and has inspired the name of the Gray Panthers and expressions such as Grey pound.
  • Hence the inspiration for the song The Old Gray Mare, and punning reference such as the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the double-play-on-words title The Old Grey Hare.
Nazi Germany
Parapsychology Parties
  • A "grey person" is someone who goes unnoticed, a wallflower.
  • Grey is often synonymous with things that are dull and boring
  • Grey represents pessimism whereas its opposite, optimism, is represented by the color rose.
  • A concept that is in a Grey area is a concept about which one is unsure what category in which to place it.


grey in Aragonese: Griso
grey in Guarani: Hũngy
grey in Aymara: Uqi
grey in Banyumasan: Abu-Abu
grey in Belarusian: Шэры колер
grey in Catalan: Gris
grey in Czech: Šedá
grey in Danish: Grå
grey in Pennsylvania German: Groh
grey in German: Grau
grey in Modern Greek (1453-): Γκρι
grey in Spanish: Gris
grey in Esperanto: Griza
grey in Basque: Gris
grey in Persian: خاکستری
grey in French: Gris
grey in Korean: 회색
grey in Indonesian: Abu-abu
grey in Italian: Grigio
grey in Hebrew: אפור
grey in Haitian: Gri
grey in Latin: Canus
grey in Luxembourgish: Gro
grey in Lithuanian: Pilka
grey in Malay (macrolanguage): Kelabu
grey in Dutch: Grijs
grey in Japanese: 灰色
grey in Chechen: Сира
grey in Norwegian: Grå
grey in Norwegian Nynorsk: Grå
grey in Narom: Gris
grey in Polish: Szary
grey in Portuguese: Cinza
grey in Romanian: Gri
grey in Quechua: Uqi
grey in Russian: Серый цвет
grey in Simple English: Gray
grey in Slovak: Sivá
grey in Finnish: Harmaa
grey in Swedish: Grå
grey in Thai: สีเทา
grey in Vietnamese: Xám
grey in Turkish: Gri
grey in Ukrainian: Сірий колір
grey in Chinese: 灰色

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Quaker-colored, achromatic, achromic, acier, advanced, advanced in life, advanced in years, aged, along in years, ancient, anemic, ashen, ashy, bay, bayard, black, bleak, bled white, bloodless, boring, buckskin, cadaverous, calico pony, canescence, canescent, cheerless, chestnut, chloranemic, cinereous, cinerous, cloudy, colorless, dapple, dapple-gray, dappled, dappled-gray, dark, dead, deadly pale, deathly pale, depressing, dim, dimmed, dingy, discolored, dismal, dove-colored, dove-gray, drab, drabness, drear, drearisome, dreary, dull, dullness, dun, dusty, elderly, etiolated, experienced, exsanguinated, exsanguine, exsanguineous, faded, faint, fallow, flat, foggy, funebrial, funereal, ghastly, glaucescence, glaucescent, glaucous, glaucousness, gloomy, glum, grave, gray, gray with age, gray-black, gray-brown, gray-colored, gray-drab, gray-green, gray-haired, gray-headed, gray-spotted, gray-toned, gray-white, grayed, grayish, grayishness, grayness, grim, griseous, grizzle, grizzled, grizzly, grown old, haggard, hoar, hoary, hueless, humdrum, hypochromic, iron-gray, lackluster, lead-gray, leaden, leadenness, livid, lividity, lividness, lurid, lusterless, mat, mature, mealy, misty, monotonous, mouse-colored, mouse-gray, mousiness, mousy, muddy, murky, neutral, neutral tint, old, old as Methuselah, overcast, paint, painted pony, pale, pale as death, pale-faced, pallid, pasty, patriarchal, pearl, pearl-gray, pearly, piebald, pinto, repetitive, roan, sad, sallow, same, samely, saturnine, senectuous, sickly, silver, silver-gray, silvered, silveriness, silvery, skewbald, slate-colored, slatiness, slaty, smoke-gray, smokiness, smoky, sober, soberness, solemn, somber, somberness, sombrous, sooty, sorrel, steel-gray, steely, stone-colored, sunless, tallow-faced, taupe, tedious, toneless, triste, uncolored, unrelieved, venerable, wan, washed-out, waxen, weak, weariful, wearisome, weary, whey-faced, white, white with age, white-bearded, white-crowned, white-haired, wise, wrinkled, wrinkly, years old
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