The Colour Grey

Grey – that is the entire palette between white and black – is the classic achromatic colour. It´s noble, unobtrusive and sophisticated, but slightly expressionless.

The impression of grey is generated while there is not enough light to view colours. There is a saying, that at night all cats appear grey, referring to this effect.

The grey eminence is the invisible person behind the scenes, secretly controlling what´s going on. Grey is also the colour of seriousness, respectability and timeliness. But also for boredom, that´s why in fashion we combine grey with other colours. Fortunately, grey is open for almost all colour combinations we can think of.

In heraldry, grey is a substitute for silver, since one cannot print real silver on a flag for example.

Grey: every cloud has a silver lining

Since we often use the colour to represent silver, let’s check some stories about silver too.
The silverback is the dominant male in a group of gorillas, because his back is turning a silvery colour with age. He is usually the most experienced (male) ape around. By the way, a group of gorillas is called a band or a troop. Less common is “a whoop of gorillas”. Had to look that up, because animal groups have proper names and it’s kind of interesting to know them.

In China, silver refers to monetary wealth. Contrary to gold, which represents power and royalty, silver stands for money.

There are many sayings containing silver.

  • Every cloud has a silver lining is one of the most common ones. It refers to a dark cloud – where a silver lining shows that there is the sun still bright behind.
  • To be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. This saying means that one is born into a wealthy family and did not have to work much for their wealth.
  • To cross one’s palm with silver means to pay someone – often as a bribe.
  • If someone has a silver tongue it means the person is skilled in eloquent, artful speech.
  • To get something handed on a silver platter means to not have to work for something at all.
  • “Silver Alert” is a term from the US and refers to a missing senior citizen, at times suffering from dementia. It is related to “Amber Alert”, which relates to missing children.
  • The “Silver Goose” is a term for a proctoscope.
  • Silver Surfer either refers to a Marvel superhero from 1966, or an elderly person being proficient with computers.
  • Speech is silver but silence is golden. Pretty much self explanatory.
  • “Selling the family silver” means someone is out for a short term reward rather than letting it accrue even greater value.
  • Silver bullet. We know that werewolves can almost only be killed by a silver bullet. Over time that “knowledge” became synonymous for a radically effective solution.
Striped Sky Phenomenon
Striped Sky – not exactly a silver lining, but an interesting phenomenon

Overview: Grey

  • Grey is an achromatic colour
  • Grey is the most neutral colour
  • The grey eminence is the figure behind the scene
  • Grey is unobtrusive
  • The colour represents punctuality and respectability
  • Grey is the colour of age and wisdom
  • Grey can be combined with every other colour
  • Grey often refers to less valuable things, for black clothing as well as white turns grey if laundered too often
  • In Heraldry, grey colour stands for silver