gray area


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Related to gray area: grey areas

gray area

A concept or topic that is not clearly defined or that exists somewhere between two extreme positions. There's a lot of gray area regarding whether the use of the new surveillance technology is lawful.
See also: area, gray
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

(a) gray area

Fig. an area of a subject or question that is difficult to put into a particular category because it is not clearly defined and may have connections or associations with more than one category. The responsibility for social studies in the college is a gray area. Several departments are involved. Publicity is a gray area in that firm. It is shared between the marketing and design divisions.
See also: area, gray
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

gray area

Indeterminate territory, undefined position, neither here nor there. For example, There's a large gray area between what is legal and what is not. This term, which uses gray in the sense of "neither black nor white" (or halfway between the two), dates only from the mid-1900s.
See also: area, gray
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a grey area

COMMON If you call something a grey area, you mean that it is unclear. Note: `Grey' is usually spelled `gray' in American English. There are many grey areas in the law affecting stolen animals. Tabloid papers paint all sportsmen as heroes or villains. There is no grey area in between.
See also: area, grey
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a grey area

an ill-defined situation or field not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules.
In the 1960s, grey areas in British planning vocabulary referred to places that were not in as desperate a state as slums but which were in decline and in need of rebuilding.
2001 Rough Guide to Travel Health In theory, it should be a cinch to diagnose appendicitis, but in practice it's much more of a grey area.
See also: area, grey
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a ˌgrey ˈarea

an area of a subject or situation that is not clear or does not fit into a particular group and is therefore difficult to define or deal with: The question of police evidence in cases like this is a grey area. We will need to consult our lawyers about it.
See also: area, grey
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Financial executives wishing to clarify the gray areas for themselves and build organizations that empower their employees to do the same will do well to identify the kinds of ethical transgressions that may surface in their companies.
With different fact situations, other courts have found the length of the marriage persuasive when awarding permanent alimony in gray area marriages.
The firm nevertheless took a chance by venturing into a gray area. The chance it took was that a trier of fact, thoughtfully reviewing all the evidence, would reasonably conclude that it had a conflict."
"This new program offers a health coverage opportunity for "gray area" Guardsmen and Reservists who served America honorably, setting a proud example for today's forces," said Rear Adm.
There are some techniques in direct marketing that go even beyond what a colleague used to call the "black side of the gray area." There are federal laws against "Social Security lookalike mailings," and the FTC and state regulators have so hedged sweepstakes with regulations that I fear I may never get another letter from Ed McMahon saying, "FRED GOSS YOU HAVE ALREADY WON!"
Some people were "taking advantage of the gray area" that existed before the notice declared it a taxable event.
His was a "gray area," I said, which is why we warned him and didn't just send a packet of documents and a copy of his sermon on video to the IRS.
Paull Mines, general counsel of the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC), told the Journal that on-line services may fall into a gray area between the two guidelines, but "there are strong reasons to conclude that states have a clear nexus with on-line services.
The question of which federal agency has jurisdiction over an individual genetically engineered product or process is yet another gray area. In a continuing effort to address these questions, NIH's Recombinant DNa Advisory Committee met this week to refine some of its guidelines.
This is to do away with a legal 'gray area' that is being exploited by violators, according to MMDA general manager Tim Orbos.
That to me was the most fascinating aspect of the story." In building and defining one's family, he adds, "there's a lot of gray area there, and it's got to be complicated for everybody."
He calls the pension plan situation a "gray area" that offers a lot of opportunity to convene the affected parties and brainstorm about how plans could be restructured.
For these owners, the short-term solution is becoming optimum maintenance, the definition of which often falls into a gray area of the difference between repair work, which is included the maintenance fee, and renovation, which is not.