: black-and-white entry 1 sense 5
… a simple but powerful idea that throws a wrench of complexity into the usual black-or-white arguments over free trade.Michael Pollan, Mother Jones, May/June 2003
Studies suggest that suicidal individuals tend to categorize events or experiences into polar extremes. They rigidly adopt an absolutist, black-or-white perspective and experience difficulty acknowledging nuances, subtleties, or relativistic alternatives.Mark A. Reinecke et al., Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies in Crisis Intervention, 2007
Applications generally embody black-or-white choices bound by rigid logic …Steve Ditlea, PC Computing, May 1994
Diagnoses are not always clear-cut, black-or-white propositions. There are many that include gray areas.Paul G. Donohue, Springfield (Massachusetts) Daily News, 20 June 1986

Word History

First Known Use

1979, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black-or-white was in 1979

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Dictionary Entries Near black-or-white

Cite this Entry

“Black-or-white.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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