Definition: White

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From Middle English whit, hwit, from Old English hwīt, from Proto-West Germanic *hwīt, from Proto-Germanic *hwītaz, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱweydós, a byform of *ḱweytós (bright; shine).

Similar to West Frisian wyt, Dutch wit, German weiß, Norwegian Bokmål hvit, Norwegian Nynorsk kvit; also Lithuanian šviẽsti (to gleam), šviesa (light), Old Church Slavonic свѣтъ or světŭ (light), свѣтьлъ or světĭlŭ (clear, bright), Persian سفید or sefid, Sanskrit श्वेत or śvetá (white, bright).


white (comparative whiter or more white, superlative whitest or most white)

  1. Bright and colorless; reflecting equal quantities of all frequencies of visible light.
    Write in black ink on white paper.
  2. (sometimes capitalized) Of or relating to Europeans or those of European descent, regardless if their skin has cool or warm undertones.
  3. (sometimes capitalized) Of or relating to Caucasians.
  4. (sometimes capitalized) By U.S. Census Bureau definition, of or relating to people hailing from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
  5. (chiefly historical) Designated for use by Caucasians.
    In the days of racial segregation, there were separate black and white schools and swimming pools.
  6. Relatively light or pale in color.
    The guests thought white wine was better than red wine.
  7. Pale or pallid, as from fear, illness, etc.
  8. (of a person or skin) Lacking coloration (tan) from ultraviolet light; not tanned.
  9. (of an animal) Affected by leucism.
  10. (of coffee or tea) Containing cream, milk, or creamer.
  11. (board games, chess) The standard denomination of the playing pieces of a board game deemed to belong to the white set, no matter what the actual color.
    The white pieces in this set are in fact made of light green glass.
  12. Pertaining to an ecclesiastical order whose adherents dress in white habits; Cistercian.
  13. Honorable, fair; decent.
  14. Grey, as from old age; having silvery hair; hoary.
  15. (politics) Pertaining to constitutional or anti-revolutionary political parties or movements.
  16. (of tea) Made from immature leaves and shoots.
  17. (typography) Not containing characters.
    Someone once made a programming language where all the symbols were different types of white space.
  18. (typography) Said of a symbol or character outline, not solid, not filled with color. Compare black (said of a character or symbol filled with color).
    Compare two Unicode symbols: ☞ = "WHITE RIGHT POINTING INDEX"; ☛ = "BLACK RIGHT POINTING INDEX"
  19. Characterized by the presence of snow.
    I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.
  20. (of a set of armor) Alwhite, pertaining to white armor.

Derived terms

  • black-and-white
  • great white
  • off-white
  • snow-white
  • white ash
  • white belt
  • white blood cell
  • whiteboard
  • white bread
  • whitecap
  • white chip
  • white chocolate
  • white clover
  • white-collar
  • white dwarf
  • white elephant
  • whitefish
  • white horse
  • White House
  • white lie
  • white light
  • white list
  • white meat
  • white noise
  • white-out
  • white pages
  • white rice
  • White River
  • White Sea
  • whitesmith
  • white space
  • whitewash
  • white water
  • whitewater rafting
  • white wedding
  • white whale
  • white witch

Related terms

  • whitebeam
  • whiten
  • whiteness
  • whitish


white (countable and uncountable, plural whites)

  1. The color/color of snow or milk; the color of light containing equal amounts of all visible wavelengths.
    For over ten years, white was my choice of background color, but then I decided to get more creative.
  2. A person of European descent with light-colored skin.
  3. Any butterfly of the subfamily Pierinae in the family Pieridae.
  4. White wine.
  5. White coffee.
  6. Any object or substance that is of the color white.
    1. The albumen of bird eggs (egg white).
    2. (anatomy) The sclera, white of the eye.
    3. (sports, billiards, snooker, pool) The cue ball in cue games.
    4. The snow- or ice-covered "green" in snow golf.
    5. A white pigment.
    6. A white bean.
  7. (archery) The central part of the butt, which was formerly painted white; the center of a mark at which a missile is shot.
  8. The enclosed part of a letter of the alphabet, especially when handwritten.
  9. (board games, chess) The person playing with the white set of pieces.
    In this position, white has an opportunity to make a good move.

Derived terms

  • egg white
  • off-white


white (third-person singular simple present whites, present participle whiting, simple past and past participle whited)

  1. To make white; to whiten; to bleach.

Derived terms

  • white out


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