Graze vs grays or greys

Graze and grays or greys commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and mean different things, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to the dialect of native speakers, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. We will examine the definitions of the homophonic words graze and grays or greys, where these three words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Graze has two, very different definitions. First, graze may mean the act of an animal such as a cow, sheep, or buffalo eating grass in a field. An animal grazes by pulling up growing grass or other growing plants in a field, with its teeth. Graze is used figuratively to mean the partaking of light snacks, without sitting down to a full meal. This definition of the word graze is derived from the Old English word grasian, which means grass and is used as a verb. The second definition of graze is to scrape in passing, to lightly touch something while passing it. In this sense, the word graze is often used to mean slight injury from a bullet or slight injury from a motor vehicle. This definition of the word graze seems to have been derived from the original meaning of the word graze, referring to the close-cropped grass left after an animal has fed. This definition of the word graze is used as a verb or a noun. Related forms are grazes, grazed, grazing, grazer.

Grays or greys are colors that are neither black or white. They fall on the color palette somewhere between black and white. Grays or greys are considered neutral colors, which often complement a brighter one, though there are many different shades of grays or shades of greys and different colors available. Grays or greys may also be used to mean hair turning silver or white with age. The spelling grays is usually reserved for an American audience, while the spelling greys is more common in British English. Both spellings have their origins in the Old English word grǽg. Grays or greys may be used as a noun or verb. Related words are gray or grey, grayed or greyed, graying or greying.


“We may or may not get to it this year, but we’ll put that on a grazing rotation starting next year for sure,” Adams said. (The Knoxville News Sentinel)

Meat such as beef and lamb is particularly inefficient to produce, because livestock need lots of space to graze, and that land is often space that used to be covered with forests. (Time Magazine)

While it’s undeniable that blues, grays, and greens are inherently calm colors, the buck doesn’t have to stop there. (Southern Living Magazine)

“As hair grays something happens that causes this gene to produce even lower levels of melanin,” says Adhikari. (Newsweek Magazine)

You don’t have to switch to the greys and blacks, or dull colours to avoid wardrobe slips; with several celebs spotted in whites, pick yourself a style that will go with your taste to keep up the fashion game on point. (The Asian Age)

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