Color Symbolism and Meaning of Gray

How do we know what gray means? Is gray the drab color that conceals tiny forest birds, scattering at our approach? Is gray the cool, dispassionate neutral of industrial décor? Is gray the sophistication of a deep charcoal suit? Neither stark white nor imposing black, gray is the ultimate negotiator.

Meaning Of Gray: Explained

Morally ambiguous and impartial, gray is the color of complexity–everything that falls in between absolutes. Gray can be easily overlooked, but it’s quite a fascinating color if you look a little deeper.

Physical Effects

They physical effects of gray are less pronounced than other colors, but it tends to have a dampening effect–both on other colors and on our moods. It’s calm and dispassionate, but too much gray, particularly if it’s a dark gray–can be depressing. Gray is the perfect neutral, as it can moderate brighter hues and pull a color scheme together.

Gray is the perfect neutral, as it can moderate brighter hues and pull a color scheme together.

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Symbolism And Meaning Of Gray

Gray is the color of intellect and of compromise. It’s a diplomatic color, negotiating all the distance between black and white. We typically consider gray to be conservative, elegant, and cool, though it can be a bit mysterious.

Meaning of Gray Words
Meaning of Gray Defined

Positive Associations

We think of gray as solemn and serious, the color of business suits and sophistication. It’s not a color of extremes, but rather of middle ground, of reasonable agreement. We also associate gray with wisdom–the sort that’s acquired with age and goes hand-in-hand with gray hair.

Color meaning of gray - refined, dignified, conservative, understated, elegant and authoritative.

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Negative Associations

Gray can be perceived as emotionally distant or disconnected, and it’s associated with morally questionable matters as well. It’s neither one thing nor the other–as in "gray area," and we can think of it as being indecisive. And though we associate gray with wisdom, the millions of dollars spent on coloring gray hair each year indicates we don’t actually love gray when it comes to hair.

Color Morsels

The typical gestation period for female gray whales is 13.5 months, and when babies are born they’re about 12-14 feet long. Baby gray whales drink up to80 gallons of milk per day. An adult gray whale’s fluke (or tail) can span up to ten feet, and adult gray whales can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes before they have to surface for air.

Gray foxes live in the deserts of the American southwest. They’re the only member of the dog family that’s able to climb trees. The gray fox is an omnivore, typically dining on rabbits, mice, voles, birds, and insects.

The Crayola Crayon called "gray" was introduced in 1934. Other shades of gray are: Gray blue, Dolphin gray, Timberwolf, Manatee, and Cadet blue. In1990, Crayola retired the first of its colors, and Blue Gray was discontinued, along with 7 other colors.

Gray Words, Phrases And Idioms

Examples of how the meaning of gray colors our language:

Gray market: the business of buying or selling items that are priced below what has been regulated

Gray mood: an unhappy mood

Gray area: caught between two differing views

Quotes About Color Gray

The color of truth is gray.

Andre Gide, French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1869-1951

The color of truth is gray. - Andre Gide  #color #quotes

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Remember the enemy of all painting is gray: a painting will almost always appear grayer then it is, on account of its oblique position under the light.

Eugene Delacroix, one of the leading artists of the French Romantic period, 1798-1863

Better gray than garishness.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, French Neoclassical painter, 1780-1867

A gray day provides the best light.

Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian polymath and painter, 1452-1519

Gray is the color... the most important of all... absent of opinion, nothing, neither/nor. - Gerhard Richter  #color #quotes

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Gray is the color... the most important of all... absent of opinion, nothing, neither/nor.

Gerhard Richter, German visual artist, b. 1932

The fundamental grey which differentiates the masters, expresses them and is the soul of all color.

Odilon Redon, French symbolist painter, 1840-1916

If you take an intense color and put an intense complement next to it without graying it, it’s very hot. The gray allows the eye to do the visual mixing.

Simmie Knox American painter, b. 1935

If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the colors which I experience and which I would like to reproduce, then why should I use any other color? I’ve tried doing so, for it was never my intention to paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray!

Alberto Giacometti, Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman and printmaker, 1901-1966

If months were marked by colors, November in New England would be colored gray.

Madeleine Kunin, American diplomat and politician, b. 1933

Concrete is, essentially, the color of bad weather.

William Dean Hamilton, American author

Gray is great. People think gray is a neutral, but I think it's such a moody, intense, dramatic and sexy color. It's very sleek.

Bryan Batt, American actor, b. 1963

Gray As A Signature Color

A signature color is different than a favorite color although for some people they many be one and the same. It is all in how you express yourself with a color and how consistently you wear it or surround yourself with the color that makes it your signature shade.

  • Albert Einstein - It has been reported that the famous physicist wore only grey suits because he didn’t want to waste brainpower on choosing an outfit each morning.
  • Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook's Chief Executive always wears a gray t-shirt.
  • President Barack Obama - paired down his White House wardrobe to only gray and blue suits.
  • Pee Wee Herman - the fictional character portrayed by Paul Reubens always wore a gray suit and red bowtie.

Companies & Brands Identified by Gray

  • Lexus
  • Wikipedia
  • Nissan
  • Swarovski
  • Forbes
  • Mercedes
Business Color Identify

Cities With Color Names: Gray Or Grey

  • Gray, Louisiana
  • Grayling, Alaska
  • Grayson, Georgia
  • Grayville, Illinois
  • Grey Eagle, Minnesota
  • Grey Forest, Texas
Cities with Color Name

Songs With Gray or Silver in the Title

  • A Touch of Gray - the Grateful Dead
  • Grey Ghost - the Henry Paul Band
  • Grey Skies - The Verve
  • Grey Street - the Dave Matthews Band
  • Touch of Grey - Grateful Dead
  • Blue, Red, and Grey - the Who
  • Silver Lady - David Soul
  • Girls Not Grey - AFI

The Color Gray In The Garden

  • Silver foliage picks up light and creates drama. Gray intensifies other colors, making them glow. - New York Botanical Garden

Discover More About the Meaning of Color

Color Symbolism and Meaning of Red
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Black
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Blue
Color Symbolism and Meaning of White
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Green
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Brown
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Orange
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Purple
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Yellow
Color Symbolism and Meaning of Pink

Talk With Us About the Color Gray

We'd enjoy knowing what you love about the color gray or what you most enjoyed about this article. We love hearing from you and read every comment.

Is there something that you know about gray that should be included here? Great! We’d love to hear from you. Share what you know about the color gray by leaving a comment below. We may just add it to the information shared on this page.

Read Time: 6 min
  • Linda says:

    Grey, often considered a neutral color, holds a fascinating place in the spectrum of hues. It sits between black and white, embodying qualities of both while also possessing its own unique character. Grey is not just a shade; it’s a canvas upon which emotions, moods, and atmospheres can be painted with subtle nuance.

  • Kalsige says:

    Very useful, thanks.

  • Sam says:

    Hi when did you write this article. Like what year. Thanks

    • Kate Smith says:

      It was first written in 2007 and updated many times since.

  • Karren says:

    Thank you.
    Great webpage.
    Great information.
    Greatly appreciated.

  • Thank you so much for golden ideas

  • Suravi Borpatra Gohain says:

    Grey colour of diplomacy, impartiality and intelligence.

  • Rachel Sze says:

    After research the color of grey, I found that grey is most creative and variety color, it can be cool, can be bright, can be classic and can be elegant…. I love grey.

  • Donald Robertson says:

    Gray is a cemetery color, it represents death. Gray is gloomy, gray clouds.

  • It is possible to make bright and heavy designs with gray color. Thank you very much for the information you have provided. I wish you good work.

  • Boyacı says:

    Heavy or lively designs can be made with gray. Colors such as yellow, pink, green, gold can be used together with the gray color.

  • Mohammed says:

    Gray is the new red,Gray is hot but breathable!

  • Oluwakorede Kolawole says:

    I had a first hand healing experience in my dream from an ailment of almost 20yrs… The healer who appears to be a potent, cool, an elegant highly revered and reserved individual was wearing a lovely grey attire… This inspired my research on the colour GREY which landed me here.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Wishing you continued health and healing.

  • Christopher says:

    Great article again Kate. Grey is my second fav right after blue. If I may throw in some more brands and some songs. Greyhound Buslines and Gray Line Bus Tours. “A Touch of Grey” by The Grateful Dead and “Grey Skies” by The Verve.

  • Lisa says:

    Was very interesting.

  • Funda says:

    Thanks for this informative article

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome. Thanks for looking around my website.

  • Tt says:

    I’m painting my dining room a very light blue and a blue grey. Just about to buy the paint and needed some context on the feeling behind it before I make this fateful decision. Decision made! Those are the colours! Thank you!

    • Kate Smith says:

      You’re welcome. THe dining room sounds lovely.

  • Princess Gray Moonflower Ramour says:

    I love love love gray. Its timeless classy stylish beautiful makes me feel like the best most stylish fashion maven fashionista!- when I wear it-

    • Kate Smith says:

      I agree. It is classy and timeless.

  • Peter Hanley says:

    I hate the ugly color gray and putrid shades of gray, lousy, stinking silver in particular.

  • Jane says:

    Gray is the color of life. It represents ashes storm.But, u have to wait the storm stop until it gives money.

  • Valarie says:

    I enjoyed, and also learned so much about the color gray

  • Sharon Ruanda Maarman says:

    50 shades of Gray …loving, caring, sexy, emotions, strict, feelings, overwhelming, wisdom, excitement, healing, spirituality, infinite, endless….

    • Annie Gray Harl says:

      My name is Annie Gray ❣️

  • Moe says:

    My favs colors are blue and green for clothing. also some red. gray I like when doing computer stuff, like a gray designed wallpaper or something like that. But recently I’ve been jumping all over the palate because I’m enjoying all colors (for twitter and fb profiles). My tumblr profile is blue and purple..

    • Kate Smith says:

      You aren’t alone, Moe. Our preferences for color can vary depending on the situation or context. There may be some colors that surround you for most of your life and others that come and go. It is fun to try out new colors.

  • Mary Jo Balistreri says:

    I enjoyed this article about grey.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks for taking time to leave your nice comment, Mary Jo. It made my day that much more sensational. 🙂

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