What do Lego pieces have to do with spelling? Not much, unless your son is doing a school presentation. Child number four had to teach his classmates “How to Build a Lego Bug”, complete with visual aids. He looked up the proper names for Lego pieces and found things like “2×2 slide plate” and “2×4 brick”. The real dilemma came when he had to write down the color of said plates and bricks.
“Mom, is it g-r-e-y or g-r-a-y?”
Good question son, and one that’s bothered me before, as I have seen both spellings in different places. The Word Nerd did some research.
According to Dictionary.com, gray and grey are adjectives that describe a neutral color between white and black. They can also mean gloomy or dull. Both words come from the Old English graeg, however, the gray spelling is used most often in America and the grey spelling is used more in England. If you need help remembering, think about a for America and e for England.
The EL James novel Fifty Shades of Grey may add to the confusion. Also, comments on the Dictionary.com site suggest that some people prefer one spelling over the other when it’s used for a name. There doesn’t seem to be a style guide for this, just personal preference.
By the way, son and I weren’t the only ones confused. A vocativ.com piece reports that, according to Google data trends, “grey” was a frequently Googled term (for spell checking) in twelve states, including Virginia (my home state), California, Florida, and Illinois.
How do you spell gray, and what is the reason for your spelling?
Thanks for getting nerdy with me!