"of a color between white and black; having little or no color or luminosity," Old English græg "gray" (Mercian grei), from Proto-Germanic *grewa- "gray" (source also of Old Norse grar, Old Frisian gre, Middle Dutch gra, Dutch graw, Old High German grao, German grau), with no certain connections outside Germanic. French gris, Spanish gris, Italian grigio, Medieval Latin griseus are Germanic loan-words. The spelling distinction between British grey and U.S. gray developed 20c. Expression the gray mare is the better horse in reference to households ruled by wives is recorded from 1540s.
c. 1200, from gray (adj.). Gray as figurative for "Southern troops in the U.S. Civil War" is first recorded 1863, in reference to their uniform color.
"become gray, wither," 1610s (with an isolated instance from late 14c.), from gray (adj.). Related: Grayed; graying.