AskDefine | Define White

Dictionary Definition

white adj
1 being of the achromatic color of maximum lightness; having little or no hue owing to reflection of almost all incident light; "as white as fresh snow"; "a bride's white dress" [syn: achromatic] [ant: black]
2 of or belonging to a racial group having light skin coloration; "voting patterns within the white population" [syn: caucasian] [ant: black]
3 free from moral blemish or impurity; unsullied; "in shining white armor"
4 marked by the presence of snow; "a white Christmas"; "the white hills of a northern winter" [syn: snowy]
5 restricted to whites only; "under segregation there were even white restrooms and white drinking fountains"; "a lily-white movement which would expel Negroes from the organization" [syn: lily-white]
6 glowing white with heat; "white flames"; "a white-hot center of the fire" [syn: white-hot]
7 benevolent; without malicious intent; "white magic"; "a white lie"; "that's white of you"
8 of a surface; not written or printed on; "blank pages"; "fill in the blank spaces"; "a clean page"; "wide white margins" [syn: blank, clean]
9 (of coffee) having cream or milk added
10 dressed (or especially habited) in white; "white nuns"
11 (of hair) having lost its color; "the white hairs of old age" [syn: whitened]
12 ash-colored or anemic looking from illness or emotion; "a face turned ashen"; "the invalid's blanched cheeks"; "tried to speak with bloodless lips"; "a face livid with shock"; "lips...livid with the hue of death"- Mary W. Shelley; "lips white with terror"; "a face white with rage" [syn: ashen, blanched, bloodless, livid]
13 of summer nights in northern latitudes where the sun barely sets; "white nights"


1 a member of the Caucasoid race [syn: white person, Caucasian]
2 the quality or state of the achromatic color of greatest lightness (bearing the least resemblance to black) [syn: whiteness] [ant: black]
3 Australian writer (1912-1990) [syn: Patrick White, Patrick Victor Martindale White]
4 United States political journalist (1915-1986) [syn: T. H. White, Theodore Harold White]
5 United States architect (1853-1906) [syn: Stanford White]
6 United States writer noted for his humorous essays (1899-1985) [syn: E. B. White, Elwyn Brooks White]
7 United States educator who in 1865 (with Ezra Cornell) founded Cornell University and served as its first president (1832-1918) [syn: Andrew D. White, Andrew Dickson White]
8 a tributary of the Mississippi River that flows southeastward through northern Arkansas and southern Missouri [syn: White River]
9 (board games) the lighter pieces [ant: black]
10 (usually in the plural) trousers [syn: flannel, gabardine, tweed] v : turn white; "This detergent will whiten your laundry" [syn: whiten] [ant: blacken]

User Contributed Dictionary

see white


Proper noun

  1. a British surname from a nickname for someone with white hair

Extensive Definition

White is the combination of all the colors of the visible light spectrum. White is an achromatic color, since it has no hue.
The impression of white light can be created by mixing appropriate intensities of the primary colors of light — red, green and blue — a process called additive mixing, but the illumination provided by this technique has significant differences from that produced by incandescence.
In nature, white results when transparent fibers, particles, or droplets are in a transparent matrix of a substantially different refractive index. Examples include classic "white" substances such as sugar, foam, pure sand or snow, cotton, clouds, and milk. Crystal boundaries and imperfections can also make otherwise transparent materials white, as in the milky quartz or the microcrystalline structure of a seashell. This is also true for artificial paints and pigments, where white results when finely divided transparent material of a high refractive index is suspended in a contrasting binder. Typically paints contain calcium carbonate and/or synthetic rutile with no other pigments if a white color is desired.

Etymology and definitions

The word white comes from the Common Germanic hwitaz though the Old English word hwīt. The word designates the perception of light containing equal amounts of all wavelengths in the visible spectrum.



In painting, white can be crafted by reflecting ambient light from a white pigment, although the ambient light must be white light, or else the white pigment will appear the color of the light. White when mixed with black produces gray. To art students, the use of white can present particular problems, and there is at least one training course specializing in the use of white in art. In watercolor painting, white areas are the absence of paint on the paper. There are also speculations about the use of white and other colors.


Until Newton's work became accepted, most scientists believed that white was the fundamental color of light; and that other colors were formed only by adding something to light. Newton demonstrated this was not true by passing white light through a prism, then through another prism. If the colors were added by the prism, the second prism should have added further colors to the single-colored beam. Since the single-colored beam remained a single color, Newton concluded that the prism merely separated the colors already present in the light. White light is the effect of combining the visible colors of light in equal proportions.
In the science of lighting, there is a continuum of colors of light that can be called "white". One set of colors that deserves this description is the color emitted via the process called incandescence, by a black body at various relatively-high temperatures. For example, the color of a black body at a temperature of 2848 kelvins matches that produced by domestic incandescent light bulbs. It is said that "the color temperature of such a light bulb is 2848 K". The white light used in theatre illumination has a color temperature of about 3200 K. Daylight can vary from a cool red up to a bluish 25,000 K. Not all black body radiation can be considered white light: the background radiation of the universe, to name an extreme example, is only a few kelvins and is quite invisible.


While the color of a light source can be reasonably measured by its correlated color temperature, a different approach is required for objects since different samples may appear white without a reference. Thus, assessment of whiteness requires a comparison. The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) prescribes one such method.

Computer color temperature

Computer displays often have a color temperature control, allowing the user to select the color temperature (usually from a small set of fixed values) of the light emitted when the computer produces the electrical signal corresponding to "white". The RGB coordinates of white are (255, 255, 255).

In human culture


Board Games

  • In the board game Cluedo, the maid Mrs. White is a suspect and a playing piece.


Cultural symbolism

  • White often represents purity or innocence in Western Civilization, particularly as white clothing or objects are easy to stain. In most Western countries white is the color worn by brides at weddings. Angels are typically depicted as clothed in white robes. In early film Westerns the stereotypically "good guy" wore a white hat (earning them the name "White Hats") while the "bad guy" wore black (earning them the name "Black Hats").
    • This can be reversed as a deliberate play on conventions, by having the evil character dress in white, as a symbol of their hypocrisy or arrogance. For example, Don Fanucci in "The Godfather, Part II" is an evil character, but wears an expensive all-white suit as a sign of his power and prestige.
  • In a highly-formal social function, the traditional dress for men attending is "white tie and tails"-- a white bow tie and a swallowtail coat.
  • In ancient China, white was the symbol of West and Metal, one of the main five colors.
  • In Indian tradition, white is also the color of purity and sacredness. It is also used for depicting Peace and Purity. However it is also the color of mourning. Women are dressed in white after the demise of their husband.


  • The term white is often used in the West to denote the race of fair-skinned Caucasoids people of European descent with pale to white skin color, whose skin color actually ranges from pink to pale brown. It has been suggested that the colors beige or peach are a more accurate representation of the color of most Caucasians. For more details, see Whites.



  • A white elephant is a gift or possession that creates a burden or difficulty for the recipient.

Government and Industry

  • A white paper can be an authoritative report on a major issue, as by a team of experts; a government report outlining policy; or a short treatise whose purpose is to educate industry customers. It is called white paper because it was originally bound in white.



  • Senecio cineraria is an old fashioned and popular garden plant due to its white-wooly foliage.


Magic (paranormal)


  • White is commonly the color of snow and ice.
  • Whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility is reduced and surface definition lost in snowy environments.


  • To "show the white feather" is to display cowardice. In cockfighting, a white feather in the tail is considered a mark of inferior breeding. In Victorian England a purported coward would be presented with a white feather.




  • In both the French and Russian Revolutions, white symbolized royalism.


  • Whitewash, figuratively, means an attempt to obscure the truth by issuing a blanket of lies. See propaganda. Also, it refers to the action of burying or shoving someone's face into the snow, as a form of bullying, or harassment (generally).

Psychedelic drugs


Romantic love

  • White is the traditional color of bridal dress in both western (European) and Japanese weddings. In Western weddings, a white dress is thought to be symbolic of purity (the bride has not engaged in pre-marital sex). This is also said to be the symbolism of the veil. In Japanese weddings, white is to symbolize the "death" of their former family and their introduction into their new family.


Sound engineering

  • White noise, in acoustics, is a sibilant sound that is often a nuisance, although it can also be deliberately created for test purposes.


  • White is the color of the usual cricket clothing, usually referred to as 'whites'. It is a result of cricket being a summer game with players being exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.
  • Australian Rules Football umpires' traditional uniform color is white. Nowadays most competitions (including AFL and VFL) provide other colors to ensure the umpires aren't clashing with players uniforms for higher visibility. At lower levels, however white is still the predominant color.
  • White was originally the national auto racing color of Japan until international racing colors were abandoned due to sponsorship.


  • In Western TV programs, and Western movies, the "good guy" usually wears a white hat. But in the dramatic series Dallas, J. R. Ewing wears a white hat in defiance of this convention, inasmuch as there is nothing "good" about him.



See also

External links

White in Afrikaans: Wit
White in Aragonese: Blanco
White in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܚܘܪܐ
White in Asturian: Blancu
White in Guarani: Morotĩ
White in Aymara: Janq'u
White in Azerbaijani: Ağ
White in Min Nan: Pe̍h-sek
White in Bosnian: Bijela
White in Bulgarian: Бял цвят
White in Catalan: Blanc
White in Cebuano: Puti
White in Czech: Bílá
White in Chamorro: Á'paka
White in Welsh: Gwyn
White in Danish: Hvid
White in German: Weiß
White in Estonian: Valge
White in Modern Greek (1453-): Λευκό
White in Erzya: Ашо
White in Spanish: Blanco (color)
White in Esperanto: Blanko
White in Basque: Zuri
White in Persian: سفید
White in French: Blanc
White in Friulian: Blanc
White in Irish: Bán
White in Galician: Branco (cor)
White in Korean: 하양
White in Hindi: श्वेत
White in Croatian: Bijela
White in Indonesian: Putih
White in Icelandic: Hvítur
White in Italian: Bianco
White in Hebrew: לבן
White in Latin: Albus
White in Luxembourgish: Wäiss
White in Lithuanian: Balta
White in Lingala: Mpɛ́mbɛ́
White in Lojban: blabi
White in Hungarian: Fehér
White in Macedonian: Бела боја
White in Maltese: Abjad
White in Marathi: पांढरा
White in Malay (macrolanguage): Putih
White in Dutch: Wit
White in Japanese: 白
White in Chechen: КIайн
White in Norwegian: Hvit
White in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kvit
White in Narom: Blianc
White in Polish: Barwa biała
White in Portuguese: Branco
White in Romanian: Alb
White in Quechua: Yuraq
White in Russian: Белый цвет
White in Simple English: White
White in Slovenian: Bela
White in Serbian: Бело
White in Serbo-Croatian: Bijelo
White in Finnish: Valkoinen
White in Swedish: Vit
White in Telugu: తెలుపు
White in Thai: สีขาว
White in Vietnamese: Trắng
White in Tajik: Сафед
White in Turkish: Ak
White in Ukrainian: Білий колір
White in Yiddish: ווייס
White in Samogitian: Balta
White in Chinese: 白色
White in Slovak: Biela (farba)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

American Indian, Amerind, Australian aborigine, Bourbon, Bushman, Caucasian, Chinese white, Indian, Malayan, Mister Charley, Mongolian, Negrillo, Negrito, Negro, Oriental, Red Indian, WASP, achroma, achromasia, achromatic, achromatosis, achromic, advanced, advanced in life, advanced in years, aged, alabaster, albescence, albinism, albino, albinoism, albumen, along in years, ancient, anemic, argent, argentine, ashen, ashy, auspicious, bare, barium sulfate, barren, benign, besnow, black, black man, blackfellow, blanc fixe, blanch, bland, blank, bleach, bleached, bled white, blench, blimp, blond, blondness, bloodless, blotless, boy, bright, brown man, burrhead, cadaverous, calcimine, canescence, canescent, caviar, chalk, chalkiness, chalky, characterless, chaste, chloranemic, clean, cleanly, clear, colored person, colorless, coon, creaminess, cretaceous, dainty, darky, dead, deadly pale, deathly pale, decolor, decolorize, devoid, dexter, diehard, dim, dimmed, dingy, dirt-free, discolored, driven snow, dull, egg, egg white, eggshell, elderly, empty, etiolate, etiolated, exsanguinated, exsanguine, exsanguineous, extenuate, faded, faint, fair, fairness, fallow, fastidious, featureless, fish eggs, flat, fleece, fleecy-white, flour, foam, fortunate, fresh, frost, frosted, frostiness, frosty, ghastly, glair, glaucescence, glaucousness, gloss over, gook, gray, gray with age, gray-haired, gray-headed, grizzle, grizzled, grizzliness, grizzly, grown old, haggard, hoar, hoariness, hoary, hollow, honky, hueless, hypochromic, immaculate, impeccable, inane, innocent, insipid, ivory, jigaboo, jungle bunny, kosher, lackluster, lactescence, lactescent, leaden, leukoderma, lightness, lily, lily-white, livid, lurid, lusterless, maggot, marble, marmoreal, mat, mealy, milk, milkiness, milky, muddy, neutral, nigger, niggra, niveous, nonpolluted, null, null and void, of cleanly habits, ofay, old, old as Methuselah, ovule, pale, pale as death, pale-faced, paleface, paleness, pallid, paper, pasty, patriarchal, pearl, pearliness, pipe-clay, platinum, propitious, pure, pure in heart, pure white, purehearted, pygmy, reactionarist, reactionist, red man, redskin, ritually pure, roe, royalist, sallow, senectuous, sexually innocent, sheet, shiny, sickly, silver, silvered, silveriness, silvery, slant-eye, smut-free, smutless, snow, snow-white, snowiness, snowy, spade, spawn, spotless, stainless, sugarcoat, swan, swan-white, sweet, tahar, taintless, tallow-faced, the Man, toneless, tubbed, ultraconservative, unadulterated, unbesmirched, unblemished, unblotted, uncolored, uncorrupt, undefiled, unmuddied, unpolluted, unrelieved, unsmirched, unsmudged, unsoiled, unspotted, unstained, unsullied, untainted, untarnished, vacant, vacuous, varnish, veneer, venerable, virtuous, vitellus, vitiligo, void, wan, washed-out, waxen, weak, well-scrubbed, well-washed, whey-faced, white as snow, white lead, white man, white race, white with age, white-bearded, white-crowned, white-haired, whiten, whitened, whiteness, whitewash, whitey, whitishness, with nothing inside, without content, wrinkled, wrinkly, years old, yellow, yellow man, yolk, zinc oxide, zinc sulfide, zinc white
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