gray (grey) hair


Senior Member
Hello, I've been always fascinated by the fact there is a special word for gray hair in Hungarian. We call it "ősz haj" [haj = hair]. The funny things is ősz means "autumn" in Hungarian which would also fit the context, but I have learned the etymology of those words [gray hair-autumn] has nothing to do with each other. But etymology is always obscure in Hungarian and my personal opinion is why not...
What do you call gray hair in your language? Does it mean "gray" [which is "szürke" in Hungarian]or do you have a special word? Thanks.
  • 810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese: We commonly call gray hair shiraga meaning white hair. Gray is translated to haiiro meaning ashe-color(ed).


    Senior Member
    We too have a special word it too, we call the gray colour (in relation to hair) «ψαρό» [psaˈɾο] (neut. nom.) --> gray; the adj. «ψαρός, - ρή, -ρό» [psaˈɾos] (masc.), [psaˈɾi] (fem.), [psaˈɾo] (neut.) means gray-haired < Classical adj. «ψᾱρός, -ρά,
    -ρόν» psārós
    (masc.), psārá (fem.), psārón (neut.) --> starling-coloured, dapple-gray coloured, gray-coloured, speckled < Classical 3rd decl. masc. noun «ψάρ» psár --> starling (with unknown etymology).
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    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    The specific root for "white hair" in Arabic is sh-y-b ش-ي-ب (the related words include verbs, nouns and adjectives), distinct from the root b-y-D ب-ي-ض for "white".



    šedé/šedivé vlasy - gray hair (plural)
    bilé vlasy - white hair (plural)

    there is word šediny (plural, singular is šedina) meaning gray hair, but this is used only for some hair, gray hair on some places on head, mostly in negative meaning, an online dictionary gives this English translation - (patches of) grey hair

    examples from Google:

    první šediny ve třiceti: nemoc, stres nebo dědičnost - first š. in thirty: disease, stress or heredity
    vlasy bez šedin zajistí jen život bez stresu - only life without stress will ensure hair without š.
    šediny chrání před rakovinou - š. protect from cancer
    vědci uznali, že šediny jsou příznakem pevného zdraví - scientists admitted that š. are symptom of strong health
    miluji tvé šediny a kartu kreditní - I love your š. and credit card
    Adriana Sklenaříková šokovala: Slovenská kráska ukázala šediny - Adriana Sklenaříková shocked: Slovak beauty showed š.
    Harry Potter se vrátil. Má šediny a další jizvu - Harry Potter returned. He has š. and another scar
    Jan Svěrák: vrásky, šediny a minimální podoba na otce - Jan Svěrák: wrinkles, š. and minimal similarity to father
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    Senior Member
    We have a special adjective "седой" for hair that has turned gray because of old age or because of some heavy emotional stress. Sometimes this word can be used with objects other than hair in a figurative sense "aged", "ancient". Does it sound close to English "hoar"?


    Senior Member
    Both in Latvian and Lithuanian there is a special word for grey hair:

    Latvian: sirms (grey hair: sirmi mati)
    Lithuanian: žilas (grey hair: žili plaukai)

    Interestingly, the Latvian cognate of Lithuanian "žilas" is "zils", which means "blue".
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    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Italian: brizzolato.

    in partic., di barba e capelli che cominciano a diventare bianchi: l’ispida barbaccia nera, incolta, b. (Pirandello);
    (loosely: referred to a beard or to hair that are starting to become white)

    I've also found: argentato (literally: silver(ly)), but I don't think it's very common in everyday speech.

    I can't think of any special word in Spanish.
    ¿Cómo te suena canoso/a?

    What about "canoso/a"?


    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    In Sardinian we use the adjective "canu" (from Latin "canus" = white/grey haired)

    That man is white/grey haired = Cuss'homine est pili canu.

    The expression "pili canu" is a remaining of Latin 2nd declension genitive; since the Sardinian word for "hair" is "pilu" and not "pili". In Sardinian there are dozens of these expressions with residual genitives, (all about physical features) ; another peculiar thing is that even nouns that in origin didn't belong to the 2nd declension have acquired the -I suffix of the 2nd declension genitive.
    Moreover, the adjective "canu" does not refer directly to the hair, but to the subject of the phrase (the man); in fact if I change the subject of the sentence to a woman, the adjective becomes feminine : That woman is white/grey haired = Cussa femina est pili cana (literal translation = that woman is white/grey of hair)

    other examples of residual genitives :

    anchi tortu/a = bow legged (anca s.f. = leg; 1st declension)
    culi mannu/a = big bottomed (culu s.m. = ass; 2nd declension)
    denti longu/a = long toothed (dente s.f. = tooth; 3rd declension)
    mani longu/a = long handed (manu s.f. = hand; 4th declension)
    pali modde = soft shouldered, lazybones (pala s.f. = shoulder; 1st declension)
    cari fine = thin faced (cara s.f. = face; 1st declension)
    cari ladu/a = wide faced
    matti bullosu/a = round bellied (matta s.f. = belly; 1st declension) - literally "with the belly round like a bubble" (bullosu = bubbled)
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    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In French, yes we call these "cheveux gris" (gray hair) or "cheveux blancs" (white hair), depending on the particular shade.

    Meanwhile, there is an earthy expression, "cheveux poivre et sel" (pepper and salt hair), to describe hair mixing black, gray and white. I don't know if this expression is used in other languages.


    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    ¿Y entrecano/a? :rolleyes:
    I don't recall the last time that I heard it… Anyway, entrecano=parcialmente canoso so I guess we are back to white. Canoso=pelo blanco o que se ha vuelto blanco. Even if canoso was used for hair that became (naturally) grey (as some people might do), that would cover just a specific type of grey hair and not all grey hair. It wouldn't include, for example, grey hair like the one on this picture: Azul ruso - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre


    Senior Member
    Ukraine, Ukrainian
    сивий, сідий.
    with gray - про́сивий, шпакува́тий, сивува́тий
    gray-haired old man = сиве́ць.


    Senior Member
    In Hindi it's सफ़ेद बाल (safed baal), literally meaning "white hair".
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    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
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