Smokey vs. smoky

Smokey is a proper noun and first name, whereas smoky is an adjective referring to an object being filled with or smelling of smoke.

Until recently smokey was an accepted spelling of smoky in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is now thought of as old-fashioned.


Elsewhere, the choice ran from interesting daily specials, such as lamb kofta, to tasty, fashionable sandwiches, such as a New York deli-style pastrami, or the Smokey Jo – smoked pork, smoked cheese, coleslaw. [Guardian]

The living symbol of Smokey Bear was an American black bear cub that was trapped in the 1950 Capitan Gap fire that burned 17,000 acres in the Lincoln National Forest in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. [Concord Monitor]

“Your photos are a breath of fresh air, even if it’s smoky when you’re stuck in the middle of martial law, a military coup and a lockdown by the Thai army in Bangkok,” writes one expat. [Australian]

3 thoughts on “Smokey vs. smoky”

  1. My first encounter with this word was the phrase ‘smokey eyes’ (make-up). I didn’t realize it could be also written as ‘smoky’ in this meaning, which looks a bit awkward to me. What do you think?

      • I’m not a native speaker and I don’t really have much contact with live English, but I’d guess “I’ve got smoky eyes” would mean you’ve got some stinging smoke there… Ok I’m kidding:) On the other hand, let’s check how Google translate sees it:

        (1) I’ve got smoky eyes –Polish–> Mam smoky eyes
        (2) I’ve got smokey eyes –Polish–> Mam smokey oczy

        Translation 1 is correct — in Polish we use this phrase as it is in English, but at the same time Google suggest changing smoky for smokey; but translation 2 goes too far. Well, I know this isn’t a good source of knowledge or anything but I think it still suggests that there is common usage of the spelling ‘smoky eyes’.


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