Both pricey and pricy are acceptable spellings of the adjective that means expensive. Pricey is more common than pricy.
Converting nouns and verbs into adjectives can be tricky business in the English language. The rules are rather loose and inconsistent. If it’s not your native language, this can be a mind-boggling pursuit to understand.
Differentiating between “pricey” and “pricy” are two such examples. What adds to this confusion is that both spellings are acceptable when describing how expensive something is. But “pricey” is a newer acquisition to the language whereas “pricy” has been around a little longer.
Grammatical Rules; Exceptions
The rule in converting to adjectives is usually to add a “Y” at the end of any given word. But this isn’t always going to be true. In some situations where the vowel “E” sits at the end, you have to drop it and then add a “Y.” Such as the case with the following words:
slime = slimy
ice = icy
spice = spicy
Words into Adjectives
But with the word “price,” you can simply add the “Y” without removing the “E” at all. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules to distinguish when to keep the “E” and when to drop it. So, it becomes a matter of memorization.
Regardless of which form of “pricey” or “pricy,” they are both adjectives that describe the expense of an item. The following phrases below illustrate their common usage:
That pricey vase was outside of my budget.
The vase was too pricy for my budget.
Historic; Modern Usage
The first known use of the word “pricey” began as recently as 1930-35. But “pricy” has a history as far back as 1837. However, “pricy” is fading from usage in most American and British English writings as many people clearly prefer “pricey.”
So, as you can see, both spellings are correct and acceptable. But, if you want to err on the side of caution, use “pricey.” In the event this rule of adding “Y” is confusing, create flashcards and put them into two piles: one for only adding the “Y” and another for dropping the “E” before adding “Y.”