Whose anatomy? Dissecting grey vs. gray.

Confession time. I’m rewatching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I know, I know. I might stop soon, because I’m getting to the middle of the fifth season where I stopped watching the first time around, and it’s losing its sentimental value.

Most people probably know the name of the show is based on the highly influential book Gray’s Anatomy. One is named after its original author, Henry Gray, and the other is named after the lead character, Meredith Grey.

Greys

Grays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But when we’re not talking about proper nouns, how do we know which word to use?

It mostly depends on which side of the Atlantic you happen to be. Gray is more commonly used in American English and grey is more commonly used in the UK (and Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.). Grammar Girl’s helpful tip is to think of grAy for America and grEy for England. For the Ngrams to prove it and notes on etymology and usage, see this post on Grammarist.

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