\ ˌbla-kən-ˈhwīt , -ˈwīt \

Definition of black-and-white 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : partly black and partly white in color

2 : being in writing or print

3 : executed in dark pigment on a light background or in light pigment on a dark ground a black-and-white drawing

4 : monochrome sense 2 black-and-white film black-and-white television

5a : sharply divided into good and evil

b : evaluating or viewing things as either all good or all bad black-and-white morality

c : sharply defined : clear-cut the truth is not always black-and-white


noun (1)

Definition of black-and-white (Entry 2 of 3)

black and white

noun (2)

Definition of black and white (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : writing, print

2 : a drawing or print done in black and white or in monochrome

3 : monochrome reproduction of visual images (as by photography or television)

Examples of black-and-white in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Hamilton Project reveals that, even though blacks and whites use drugs at about the same rate, blacks are 6.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug use. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Unprotected, Underserved: The (False) Criminalization of Black America," 25 June 2018 Both blacks and whites here feel that the other group holds the real power in society, which is so reminiscent of America right now. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Drought In Post-Apartheid Cape Town: An Interview with Eve Fairbanks," 12 June 2018 The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. Jill Colvin,, "Trump grants pardon to Jack Johnson, boxing’s first black heavyweight champion," 24 May 2018 The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. Time, "President Trump Grants Rare Posthumous Pardon to Late Boxer Jack Johnson," 24 May 2018 And that ability to exist with the uncertainty of real life where things aren't black and white is a very powerful thing. Clay Skipper, GQ, "Michael Pollan on Why Psychedelics Might Save Us All," 18 May 2018 While the civil rights movement covered a wide range of disparities affecting African-Americans, the question of whether blacks and whites should be able to use the same toilets played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Dahleen Glanton,, "America's problems with race start (but don't end) at your Starbucks bathroom," 19 Apr. 2018 Most, including both blacks and whites, think only some of them have been achieved. Jennifer De Pinto, CBS News, "Americans view MLK as important, but believe only some of his goals have been achieved," 2 Apr. 2018 What's more, many of the Washingtons, black and white, stayed in the area. Roxanne Washington,, "Mormon church in Westlake sponsoring African-American genealogy symposium March 10: (photos)," 1 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black-and-white.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of black-and-white


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

1958, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for black-and-white

Noun (1)

from a common color scheme for such cars

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about black-and-white

Share black-and-white

Statistics for black-and-white

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for black-and-white

The first known use of black-and-white was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for black-and-white



English Language Learners Definition of black-and-white

: partly black and partly white in color

: having, showing, or producing pictures that do not have colors except for black, white, and shades of gray

: involving a simple choice between things that are clearly opposite and especially between good and bad or right and wrong

More from Merriam-Webster on black-and-white

See words that rhyme with black-and-white

Comments on black-and-white

What made you want to look up black-and-white? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characteristic trappings or dress

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!