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Dyeing vs. Dying vs. Dyeing

Dieing, dying and dyeing are three homophones, meaning they sound almost identical. Of course, they also look very similar, so it’s common to see them mixed up in speech and writing.
  • Dying is most used as the present participle of the verb to die, i.e. to cease to live.
  • Dyeing is the present participle of the verb to dye, i.e. to turn a material from one color to another.
  • Dieing – a very uncommon word – is the present participle of the verb to die, but specifically in the sense of cutting metals with a tool called a die or die-cast machine.

When to Use Dieing

A die or die-cast, among other things, is a tool to shape metals. It also has a verb form, to die, meaning the action of cutting those metals with the die. Therefore, the process of dieing is the action in the present tense of shaping metals with a die. Because of its narrow meaning specific to industry, it’s not a word you will come across too often. Examples:
  • The welder was carefully dieing iron plates all afternoon.
  • John uses the die-cast, methodically dieing the metals into different shapes.
Note: The majority of writers will go through their career without coming across the word dieing. In fact, Microsoft Word picks it up as misspelled, such is its rare usage. The important thing to note is that it has no relation to dying, and that using it when writing about the action of ceasing to live is incorrect.

When to Use Dying

Dying is the present participle of the verb to die, i.e. it is the present tense action of ceasing to live. Examples:
  • Many children are dying around the world of infectious diseases.
  • The soldier was slumped over, dying in the field, calling to his comrades for help.
  • The plant is dying because Margaret forgot to water it.
Dying can also be used as an adjective, to describe the point of death.
  • Her dying words were: “I love you”.
  • Ballet seems to be a dying artform these days.
In addition, we can use dying in more idiomatic, non-literal, ways:
  • The comedian was dying on stage = the comedian had a bad performance.
  • We were dying of laughter = We found the situation hilarious.
  • I’m dying of thirst/hunger = I am extremely thirsty/hungry.
  • I’m dying for something to do = I am bored.

When to Use Dyeing

Dyeing is the present participle of the verb to dye, i.e. the present tense action of using dye to change the color of something.
  • My sister is dyeing her hair blonde in the bathroom.
  • The factory workers were dyeing the leather shoes a bright red.
  • Chicago is dyeing the river green as part of its St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Tips to Remember the Difference

The first thing to remember is that dieing is very unlikely to be used in your vocabulary, so forget it unless you intend to have a specialist career in metal-working. As for dying and dyeing, grammar sites will recommend that you focus on the extra e in dyeing, associating it with words like material and clothes, which also contain the letter “E”. Another way to remember that dye is related to coloring something is that the “YE” in dye is the same “YE” in the word yellow, and many people dye their hair yellow (blonde).
  • Dyeing has to do with changing the color of material and clothes.
  • Dyeing has to do with changing the color of hair, and many people color their hair blonde (yellow).
While it can be confusing since die, as in death, has an irregular present participle, dying. You should also try to remember that when we cease to live, we do not dye – we die, and both live and die contain an “I”. This can help you remember that dyeing is incorrect when speaking of death.