1 of 2


variants or less commonly lily white
: white as a lily
lily-white sheets
: having or involving few or no people of color : lacking racial diversity
All too often, big-city cops live in lily-white enclaves like Simi Valley, California …Les Payne
Unless the Saints hire a black coach …, the NFL will continue its lily-white string of hires …Peter King
Most disappointingly, the main cast remains lily-white.People Weekly
: being or having extremely light pigmentation of the skin
a lily-white complexion
or Lily-White or Lily White dated, US politics : characterized by or favoring the exclusion of Black people especially from politics compare black-and-tan sense 2
: lacking faults or imperfections : irreproachable, pure
But Malcolm X has survived the gantlet of historical reassessment. A new generation responds to his principled rage precisely because he isn't lily white and goody-two-shoes.Peter Rainer


2 of 2


variants or lily white
plural lily-whites or lily whites
: something that is white
He is a rock-solid, card-carrying free spirit, a young man who wears black tennis shoes in a sport that loves its lily whitesBill Dwyre
usually Lily-White or Lily White plural Lily-Whites or Lily Whites, dated, US politics : a member of a political organization favoring the exclusion of Black people
A lifelong Republican in the tradition of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, [Norris Wright] Cuney fought a decades-long battle with the "Lily-Whites," Texas Republicans obsessed with driving African Americans out of the party.Joe Holley
Known as Lily Whites in newspaper headlines, the segregationists maneuvered to exclude Black people from roles of significance.Jack Schnedler

Examples of lily-white in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The main protagonist, Audrey (Ashley Park), a successful lawyer who was adopted from China by a White American couple, has been best friends with Lolo (Sherry Cola) since childhood, bonding over being two of the few Asians in their almost lily-white hometown. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 5 July 2023 The sun beats down so fiercely on a lily-white tablecloth that the co-CEOs and co-chairpeople of the Warner Bros. Film Group shield themselves with Gucci and Ray-Ban shades. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 14 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lily-white.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lily-white was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near lily-white

Cite this Entry

“Lily-white.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: white as a lily
: free from fault or blame : faultless, pure
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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