Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Oct 12 13:33:17 UTC 2000

>... Online retailers selling "grey-market" goods, which are outside
>distribution agreements, are a lot more difficult to track down than
>bricks-and-mortar stores.
>    Why wouldn't the FT use "gray" market?

Why prefer "gray"?

I for one grew up thinking "gray" and "grey" were exactly the same, both
fully satisfactory in all contexts.

Only recently have I encountered the idea that one is "American", the other
"British". [This distinction among others may be designed to provide a
living for linguists. (^_^)]

The M-W usage dictionary states: "Both spellings are correct and common. In
American English, the preference is for _gray_, but _grey_ is also widely
used. The British have a very definite preference for _grey_."

The OED has a discussion which seems absolutely absurd to me: apparently
some think (or thought) that the words 'grey' and 'gray' refer to two
distinct colors. (The OED also notes that even within 'modern' times 'grey'
has not always been universally preferred in Britain.)

An amusing true story (at my expense):

Dad (Doug Wilson) [squinting at his cheap photoreduced OED]: How would you
spell "gray"?

Son (high-school student): "G-R-A-Y."

Dad: What about "G-R-E-Y?"

Son: That's OK too.

Dad: Well, then, what about "greyhound"?

Son: Always with an "E", I think.

Dad: Why not with either?

Son: Maybe the words "gray" and "greyhound" aren't related.

Dad: [rude noise] Of course they are related. [looks further in the OED] Oops.

It seems they're not related. Another humiliation among many ... but it's
not so distressing when it's by my son.

-- Doug Wilson

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