Definition of grey in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡreɪ/
(US gray)

adjective (greyer, greyest; grayer, grayest)

1Of a colour intermediate between black and white, as of ashes or lead: grey flannel trousers his hair was grey and wispy
More example sentences
  • Boys will wear black shoes, grey trousers, a white airtex polo shirt, and a navy v-neck sweatshirt featuring the school's specially designed logo.
  • One complaint, though: white / gray text on a black background is just plain painful on the eyes.
  • He wore white T-shirt and dark gray pants with black belt.
greyish, silvery;
silver-grey, pearl-grey, pearly, gunmetal grey, slate-grey, smoke-grey, smoky, sooty
white, silver, hoary
ashen, wan, pale, pasty, pallid, colourless, sallow, leaden, bloodless, anaemic, white, waxen, chalky;
sickly, peaked, drained, sapped, washed-out, drawn, deathly, deathlike, ghostly
informal peaky
1.1(Of the weather) cloudy and dull: a cold, grey November day
More example sentences
  • He looked exactly the same as yesterday, though that may have had something to do with the fact that the weather was grey and cloudy.
  • The weather is gray and gloomy throughout much of the country.
  • Tannadice was enveloped by the kind of dreich, grey weather which made you wonder whether the floodlights would have sufficient wattage to illuminate the pitch.
cloudy, overcast, dull, dim, dark, sunless;
gloomy, dreary, dismal, sombre, drab, bleak, cheerless, depressing, glum;
misty, foggy, murky
1.2(Of a person) having grey hair: [as complement]: she’s getting on a bit, and going grey
More example sentences
  • Wearing a brown jacket, blue shirt and blue jeans, he's undoubtedly grey.
  • He's grey, got a few miles on the clock and hooks into the public purse as though he was a fair-dinkum member of the royal family, but a merry old soul he is not.
  • No wonder I'm completely gray; you two have worried the color plumb out of my hair.
1.3 informal Relating to old people collectively: grey power the grey market
More example sentences
  • ‘If grey power gets itself organised, they'll be the most fantastic force in the land,’ she says.
  • In America, grey power is the key to electoral victory.
  • It felt more like a rally of the grey power movement.
1.4(Of a person’s face) pale, as through tiredness, age, or illness: his face looked grey and drawn
More example sentences
  • When I turned to look at him, I was shocked to see his face was gray, covered in perspiration and his breathing was shallow.
  • Keziah could see the boy's shoulders sagging with exhaustion, and his face was grey with fatigue.
  • His brown eyes were quite noticeable on his otherwise gray face.
2Without interest or character; dull and nondescript: grey, faceless men the grey daily routine
More example sentences
  • Zahariev works at a gas station and participation in the contest brought him a ray of light from his normally gray and monotonous routine.
  • But as long as it doesn't serve the economical interests of the grey men, those who control the governments that control the world, it won't happen.
  • The Holloway road is a grim grey artery filled with traffic pollution and lined by nondescript retail outlets.
characterless, colourless, nondescript, unremarkable, faceless;
lifeless, soulless, passionless, spiritless, insipid, jejune, flat, bland, dry, stale;
dull, uninteresting, unimaginative, boring, tedious, monotonous;
neutral, anonymous, wishy-washy
3(Of financial or trading activity) not accounted for in official statistics: the grey economy
More example sentences
  • Actually, the so-called grey economy operates very well outside official regulation.
  • Finance Minister Milen Velchev believes that the grey economy has receded in Bulgaria in recent years, albeit by a modest degree.
  • The latest studies indicate that the grey economy in Bulgaria is at 20 per cent.
unofficial, informal, irregular, back-door
4South African historical Relating to an ethnically mixed residential area: a grey Cape Town suburb
More example sentences
  • Rand Afrikaans University researchers have listed 13 ‘grey’ suburbs in cities across SA.


1 [mass noun] Grey colour or pigment: dirty intermediate tones of grey
More example sentences
  • Their water pots are a sudden burst of colour against the dusty grey of the road.
  • The sun was just beginning to set and the sky was a combination of blue, orange and gray.
  • It's a startling shade of blue grey, but apart from that, it's very well styled.
1.1Grey clothes or material: the gentleman in grey
More example sentences
  • Luxurious satin corsets in gun-metal grey, deep mauve, and black mix with slim-fitting trousers and ground-sweeping skirts.
  • For this show, Marc continues the dark, gloomy feel with black, navy and gray.
  • A woman entered dressed in dark gray, the dress was similar to mine, but the shoulders were covered.
1.2Grey hair: he sighed at the amount of grey at his temple
More example sentences
  • There is quantity certainly, but quality too: clear skin, facial contours, thick dark hair with very little grey.
  • In the center is Frank, wearing a black tuxedo and looking much younger - no beard then, and certainly no gray in his hair.
  • That was the first time I noticed the streaks of gray in his dark hair.
2A grey thing or animal, in particular a grey or white horse.
Example sentences
  • Eager equestrians were paraded round the ring by charming chestnuts and graceful greys in the popular horse classes.
  • Just as trumpeters wore distinctive uniforms, so too they rode distinctive horses, usually greys, to aid recognition.
  • Inside a house at Farm Road, Hyde, the collection of young adults, blacks, whites and greys had been happily breeding unchecked.


1 [no object] (Especially of hair) become grey with age: he had put on weight and greyed somewhat (as adjective greying) a man with greying hair
More example sentences
  • In his late fifties, his sandy-coloured hair is greying and a thick grey beard accentuates his rounded face.
  • His once brown hair was slowly graying and he'd put on some weight.
  • Her straight, dark hair is graying, but her dark eyes are just as sharp and intelligent as they ever were.
1.1(Of a person) become older: (as adjective greying) a greying workforce
More example sentences
  • As I have grayed, however, I am much more wary of this approach.
  • On the one hand the current secondary school workforce is greying.
  • It is apparent that our membership has been graying for many years and that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to join us.
age, get old, grow old, mature

Phrasal verbs

grey something out

Computing Display a menu option in a light font to indicate that it is not available: (as adjective greyed out) temporarily unavailable items are listed in a lighter, ‘grayed-out’ font
More example sentences
  • When I open the Address Book and click on the File menu, the Import and Export options are grayed out.
  • Unfortunately, this option is grayed out [ghosted] and I cannot change the setting.
  • But better to simply not show them or grey them out so they can't even be selected.



Pronunciation: /ˈɡreɪɪʃ/
Example sentences
  • Iron is a silvery white or grayish metal that is ductile and malleable.
  • The roof above is concrete struts with glass tiled pavement slabs forming hundreds of mini-skylights that let in a certain amount of greyish London light…
  • The birds have green/yellow legs and greyish heads.


Example sentences
  • Sin and evil weren't black - he'd argued the point with a priest - but were greyly anonymous.
  • Morning light filtered grayly through the curtains and I dressed quietly not wishing to disturb the elderly person who had granted me such a night of quiet rest.
  • We climbed a narrow staircase that led to a dusty office lit grayly by one narrow window.


Pronunciation: /ˈɡreɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • Some people would tell the story of your earlier life as an escape from the austerity and puritanism and greyness and lack of colour of Britain at that time.
  • A brightly coloured housing centre provides the only relief from the greyness.
  • As a rule of thumb, use olive- or yellow-toned cover-up or foundation to conceal redness around the nose and chin, and pale orange tones to conceal greyness and under-eye circles.


Old English grǣg, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch grauw and German grau.

  • An Old English word that since the Middle Ages has been used to describe the weather when the sky is overcast. The extension of this to mean ‘dismal or sad’ dates from the early 18th century. The following 1969 quotation from The Times appears to be one of the earliest instances of the word carrying connotations of ‘faceless or anonymous’: ‘The identity of these grey men of politics should be revealed.’ A grey area is an ill-defined situation which does not readily fit into an existing category. It is so called because it is ‘not black or white’, and cannot be simply analyzed or put into a single category. The expression was first used in the late 1940s in reference to countries that had Communist sympathies but were not completely pro- or anti-Communist. The name of the greyhound has nothing to do with the colour grey. It comes from Old English grighund, which meant ‘bitch hound’. In the late 19th century an ocean greyhound was a steamship specially built for great speed.

Words that rhyme with grey

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, clay, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lay, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, say, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, stray, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: grey

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