Gray is an intermediate color between black and white. It is a neutral or achromatic color, meaning literally that it is a color “without color.” It is the color of a cloud-covered sky, of ash and of lead.
The first recorded use of grey as a color name in the English language was in AD 700. Grey is the dominant spelling in European and Commonwealth English, although gray remained in common usage in the UK until the second half of the 20th century. Gray has been the preferred American spelling since approximately 1825, although grey is an accepted variant.
In Europe and the United States, surveys show that grey is the color most commonly associated with neutrality, conformity, boredom, uncertainty, old age, indifference, and modesty. Only one percent of respondents chose it as their favorite color.
In the Christian religion, grey is the color of ashes, and so a biblical symbol of mourning and repentance, described as sackcloth and ashes. It can be used during Lent or on special days of fasting and prayer. As the color of humility and modesty, grey is worn by monks of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Franciscan order and Cistercian order. Grey cassocks are worn by clergy of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church.
Buddhist monks and priests in Japan and Korea will often wear a sleeved grey, brown, or black outer robe.
Taoist priests in China also often wear grey.
Grey is rarely used as a color by political parties, largely because of its common association with conformity, boredom and indecision. An example of a political party using grey as a color are the German Grey Panthers.
The term “grey power” or “the grey vote” is sometimes used to describe the influence of older voters as a voting bloc. In the United States, older people are more likely to vote, and usually vote to protect certain social benefits, such as Social Security.
Greys is a term sometimes used pejoratively by environmentalists in the green movement to describe those who oppose environmental measures and supposedly prefer the grey of concrete and cement.
During the American Civil War, the soldiers of the Confederate Army wore grey uniforms. At the beginning of the war, The armies of the North and of the South had very similar uniforms; some Confederate units wore blue, and some Union units wore grey. There naturally was confusion, and sometimes soldiers fired by mistake at soldiers of their own army. On June 6, 1861, the Confederate government issued regulations standardizing the army uniform and establishing cadet grey as the uniform color. This was (and still is) the color of the uniform of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, which produced many officers for the Confederacy.
The new uniforms were designed by Nicola Marschall, a German-American artist, who also designed the original Confederate flag. He closely followed the design of contemporary French and Austrian military uniforms. Grey was not chosen for its camouflage value; this was not appreciated for several more decades; but because the South did not have a major dye industry and grey dyes were inexpensive and easy to manufacture. While some units had uniforms colored with good-quality dyes, which were a solid bluish-grey, others had uniforms colored with vegetable dyes made from sumac or logwood, which quickly faded in sunshine to the yellowish color of butternut squash.
In the last twelve months of the war, the South was able to import uniforms made with good-quality blue-grey dye from Ireland, made especially for the Confederacy by a firm in Limerick, but by that time the war was on its way to being lost.
The German Army wore grey uniforms from 1907 until 1945, during both the First World War and Second World War. The color chosen was a grey-green called field grey (German: feldgrau). It was chosen because it was less visible at a distance than the previous German uniforms, which were Prussian blue. It was one of the first uniform colors to be chosen for its camouflage value, important in the new age of smokeless powder and more accurate rifles and machine guns. It gave the Germans a distinct advantage at the beginning of the First World War, when the French soldiers were dressed in blue jackets and red trousers.
During World War II, most German soldiers wore the traditional field grey. The soldiers of the Afrika Korps of General Erwin Rommel wore a lighter grey uniform more suitable for the desert.
Some of the more recent uniforms of the German Army and East German Army were field grey, as were some uniforms of the Swedish army. The Army of Chile wears field grey today.
The grey suit
During the 19th century, women’s fashions were largely dictated by Paris, while London set fashions for men. The intent of a business suit was above all to show seriousness, and to show one’s position in business and society. Over the course of the century, bright colors disappeared from men’s fashion, and were largely replaced by a black or dark charcoal grey frock coat in winter, and lighter greys in summer. In the early 20th century, the frock coat was gradually replaced by the lounge suit, a less formal version of evening dress, which was also usually black or charcoal grey. In the 1930s the English suit style was called the drape suit, with wide shoulders and a nipped waist, usually dark or light grey. After World War II, the style changed to a slimmer fit called the continental cut, but the color remained grey.
By the second half of the 20th century, men’s fashions in suits were determined as much by Hollywood as by London tailors. The 1950s and 1960s were the age of glory for the grey suit; they were worn by movie stars, such as Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart, and by President John F. Kennedy, who wore a two-button grey suit. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson was the first U.S. president to be inaugurated wearing an Oxford grey business suit; his predecessors had worn a formal cutaway coat with striped trousers for their inaugurations. Grey suits also became the unofficial uniform of Madison Avenue in New York City, the center of the advertising industry.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the style was beginning to change; grey was considered monotonous and without character. Gradually the dark blue suit gained supremacy. At recent meetings of the G-20 and other international organizations, nearly every head of state of the world was wearing a blue business suit.
In ethics, grey is either used pejoratively to describe situations that have no clear moral value; “the grey area”, or positively to balance an all-black or all-white view; for example, shades of grey represent magnitudes of good and bad.
In folklore, grey is often associated with goblins, elves and other legendary mischievous creatures. Scandinavian folklore often depicts gnomes and nisser in grey clothing. This is partly because of their association with dusk, as well as because these creatures were said to be outside traditional moral standards of black and white.
The writer J. R. R. Tolkien made use of this folkloric symbolism of grey in his works, which often draw upon Scandinavian folkloric names and themes. Gandalf is called the Grey Pilgrim; settings include the Grey Havens and Ered Mithrin, the grey mountains; and characters include the Grey Elves.
In baseball, grey is the color typically used for road uniforms. This came about because in the 19th and early 20th century, away teams didn’t normally have access to laundry facilities on the road, thus stains were not noticeable on the darker grey uniforms as opposed to the white uniforms worn by the home team.
Believers in parapsychology say that those who are suffering from the mental illness of depression have grey auras.
In gay slang, a grey queen is a gay person who works for the financial services industry (this term originates from the fact that in the 1950s, people who worked in this profession often wore grey flannel suits).
Associations and symbolism
In America and Europe, grey is one of the least popular colors; In a European survey, only one percent of men said it was their favorite color, and thirteen percent called it their least favorite color; the response from women was almost the same. According to color historian Eva Heller, “grey is too weak to be considered masculine, but too menacing to be considered a feminine color. It is neither warm nor cold, neither material or spiritual. With grey, nothing seems to be decided.”
Grey is the color most commonly associated in many cultures with the elderly and old age, because of the association with grey hair; it symbolizes the wisdom and dignity that come with experience and age. The New York Times is sometimes called The Grey Lady because of its long history and esteemed position in American journalism.
Grey is the color most often associated in Europe and America with modesty.
Source From Wikipedia