Trey or Tray – Which Spelling Is Correct? (Examples)

When serving people, at home or in a restaurant, do you use a “Trey” or a “Tray”?

Those words sound the same, but are they synonyms? Can we interchange “Trey” with “Tray”? We want to know which form is correct, which one to avoid, and what’s the correct meaning.

Trey or Tray – Which Spelling Is Correct?

“Tray” is the correct word to indicate the object that we use to carry food and drinks while serving them. “Trey” is a common misspelling of the word “Tray”, but can also mean a three-pointer in baseball or a score of three in cards, dice, or dominoes.

trey or tray

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Dana was carrying a trey when she bumped into the chair. (incorrect)
  • Dana was carrying a tray when she bumped into the chair.
  • Donald made three trays in 15 games. (incorrect)
  • Donald made three treys in 15 games.

“Tray” is the only correct form to indicate the object used to serve people food and drinks. But due to the similarity in pronunciation, it’s important to pay attention and avoid any confusion between “Tray” and “Trey”.

The first set of sentences in the example shows “Tray” properly used and “Trey” in the wrong place.

The second set of sentences shows “Trey” being used properly, as a kind of score in a game. In that scenario, it’s “Tray” that doesn’t belong and shouldn’t be used.

With that said, be aware that “Trey” is also a name. It can be used as a proper name or as a nickname for a person who’s the third in their family with the same name.

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Trey

“Trey” is an incorrect spelling for the word “Tray”, but is a correct word when related to games and scores. In dice games, as well as dominoes and cards, if you score three times, you have a “Trey”. The same thing happens in baseball.

Last but not least, “Trey” can be a person’s name.

In regards to scores, “Trey” is slang and, therefore, doesn’t show in most dictionaries. That doesn’t mean, though, it’s not a valid word you can use.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  1. In the two games since his return, Rusty buried six trays.
  2. The rule says that the red treys have to be deducted from the score, not added.
  3. With aces and treys, you have nine outs.
  4. George, that’s three treys and a free throw.
  5. Trey decided to move out of the house and go to college.

Tray

“Tray” is a container, often used to carry food and drinks but also used for decoration or to keep an office organized. The only correct spelling for this word is “Tray”.

The definition in The Cambridge Dictionary is graphic and simple: “a flat object, usually with raised edges, used for carrying food and drinks”.

Take a look at the examples below:

  1. Please, grab those two trays and follow me.
  2. Jack dropped the tray of drinks.
  3. She was kind enough to bring me a breakfast tray.
  4. On the tray, there were 3 burgers, 3 drinks, and some fries.
  5. Do you have ice trays?

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of those forms is used more often, “Trey” or “Tray”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

trey or tray usage

The graph shows that “Tray” is used much more often than “Trey”. We think it makes sense because “Tray” is a word that’s much more common, used daily by a larger number of people. We’d be surprised if “Tray” wasn’t at the top of the graph.

“Trey”, however, is also a relevant word. The graph shows that since around 1990 the usage of “Trey” has increased consistently. Is it because more parents are naming their child “Trey”? Or because more people are interested in games and sports?

We don’t know. But the good news is that you can use both “Tray” and “Trey” in your sentences, as long as you are mindful of the meaning of each word.

Final Thoughts

“Trey” is a name, a proper noun. It is also a way to indicate a three score in games of dominoes, dice, and card. “Trey” is also a three-pointer in baseball. “Tray”, on the other hand, is an object with edges used to carry things or keep them organized.