\ ˈ(h)wīt How to pronounce white (audio) \
whiter; whitest

Definition of white

 (Entry 1 of 13)

1a : having the color of new snow or milk specifically : of the color white (see white entry 2 sense 1) white socks a white rabbit
b : light or pale in color white hair white wine lips white with fear
c : free from color : clear, transparent white vinegar vodka and other white liquors
d : lustrous pale gray : silvery white alloy wheels also : made of silver … each ball containing 1.366 ounces of pure silver, would cost $204.90 compared with $5.29 at the white metal's pre-1967 price of 1.29 … — William L. Silber
2a or less commonly White : of or relating to any of various population groups considered as having light pigmentation of the skin

Note: The meaning of white as it relates to population groups has historically been fluid, with people of particular ancestries being excluded for a time before being included, and vice versa. The category has also often functioned as a grouping into which people who are not designated as belonging in some other category are placed. Specific parameters are, however, sometimes set, as in the U.S. 2020 Census, which stipulates that "the category of 'White' includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."

b or less commonly White : of or relating to white people or their culture books from the canon of white literature
c [from the former stereotypical and racist association of good character with northern European descent] dated, offensive : marked by upright fairness That's mighty white of you

Note: This use of white is sometimes used ironically.

3 : free from spot or blemish: such as
a(1) : free from moral impurity : innocent the pure white heart of the devout
(2) : marked by the wearing of white by the woman as a symbol of purity a white wedding
b : unmarked by writing or printing a writer trying to will the white space on the page away
c : not intended to cause harm a white lie white magic
d archaic : favorable, fortunate one of the white days of his life— Walter Scott
4a : wearing or habited in white white friars
b : marked by the presence of snow : snowy a white Christmas
5a : heated to the point of whiteness molten white metal
b : notably ardent : passionate white fury
6 [so used from the white flag of the Bourbons (see bourbon entry 1 sense 1)]
a : conservative or reactionary in political outlook and action
b : instigated or carried out by reactionary forces as a counterrevolutionary measure a white terror
7 : of, relating to, or constituting a musical tone quality characterized by a controlled pure sound, a lack of warmth and color, and a lack of resonance
8 : consisting of a wide range of frequencies used of light, sound, and electromagnetic radiation


plural whites

Definition of white (Entry 2 of 13)

1 : the achromatic object color of greatest lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that reflect diffusely nearly all incident energy throughout the visible spectrum
2 : one that is or approaches white in color: such as
a : white clothing often used in plural
c : a white mammal (such as a horse or a hog)
d(1) : a white-colored product (such as flour) usually used in plural
(2) : any of numerous butterflies (subfamily Pierinae of the family Pieridae) that usually have the ground color of the wings white and are related to the sulphur butterflies
e whites plural : teeth used in the phrase pearly whites
3 : a person belonging to any of various population groups considered as having light pigmentation of the skin

Note: This meaning of the noun white is usually used in the plural form and typically in contexts about population groups, as in "a policy supported by many rural whites."

4a : a white or light-colored part of something: such as
(1) : a mass of albuminous material surrounding the yolk of an egg
(2) : the white part of the eyeball
(3) : the light-colored pieces in a 2-player board game also : the player by whom these are played
(4) : the area of a page unmarked by writing, printing, or illustration
b(1) archaic : a white target
(2) : the fifth or outermost circle of an archery target also : a shot that hits it
5 whites plural : leukorrhea
6 often capitalized : a member of a conservative or reactionary political group


whited; whiting

Definition of white (Entry 3 of 13)


biographical name (1)
\ ˈ(h)wīt How to pronounce White (audio) \

Definition of White (Entry 4 of 13)

Andrew Dickson 1832–1918 American educator and diplomat


biographical name (2)

Definition of White (Entry 5 of 13)

Byron Raymond 1917–2002 American jurist


biographical name (3)

Definition of White (Entry 6 of 13)

Edward Douglass 1845–1921 American jurist; chief justice U.S. Supreme Court (1910–21)


biographical name (4)

Definition of White (Entry 7 of 13)

Elwyn Brooks 1899–1985 American journalist and writer


biographical name (5)

Definition of White (Entry 8 of 13)

Gilbert 1720–1793 English clergyman and naturalist


biographical name (6)

Definition of White (Entry 9 of 13)

Patrick Victor Martindale 1912–1990 Australian writer


biographical name (7)

Definition of White (Entry 10 of 13)

Stanford 1853–1906 American architect


biographical name (8)

Definition of White (Entry 11 of 13)

Theodore Harold 1915–1986 American journalist and writer


biographical name (9)

Definition of White (Entry 12 of 13)

William Allen 1868–1944 American journalist and writer


geographical name

Definition of White (Entry 13 of 13)

1 river 690 miles (1110 kilometers) long in northern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri flowing southeast into the Mississippi River
2 river 250 miles (402 kilometers) long in northwestern Colorado and eastern Utah flowing west into the Green River
3 river 50 miles (80 kilometers) long in southwestern Indiana flowing west into the Wabash River
4 river 325 miles (523 kilometers) long in southern South Dakota flowing east into the Missouri River
5 river 130 miles (209 kilometers) long in northwestern Texas

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from white


whitish \ ˈ(h)wī-​tish How to pronounce White (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for white

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of white in a Sentence

Adjective He was wearing white sneakers. He had a long, white beard. Her lips were white with fear. He turned white when he heard the news. He came from a white middle-class background. His mother is Hispanic and his father is white. Noun the whites of his eyes The cake recipe calls for four egg whites.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Older and non-white Americans make up a disproportionate share of the death toll. Eve Sneider, Wired, 17 Sep. 2021 While one of the black-and-white images has been associated with Avitia, USA TODAY could not confirm its authenticity. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, 17 Sep. 2021 This acts as a screen for the occasional burst of Tal Rosner’s black-and-white video footage of healthy-looking children, but more often serves as an elegant symbol of the woods where the camp is set. David Benedict, Variety, 17 Sep. 2021 This is particularly true of people of color, which numerous studies have shown fare worse compared to white Americans across a range of health measures, and are more likely to be subject to discrimination in medical care. Bill Frist, Forbes, 15 Sep. 2021 Yet, getting white Americans to recognize Hispanic heritage as something engraved in American culture is a battle that Latinos struggle with basically every day. Abby Cruz And Cristina Corujo, ABC News, 15 Sep. 2021 Census figures at the end of June showed about 45% of Black Americans owned homes in the second quarter, compared with 74% of white Americans. Rachel Layne, CBS News, 13 Sep. 2021 Vaccine rates are lower among Black and Latino communities than among white Americans, for several reasons. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 10 Sep. 2021 The opioid epidemic has long been portrayed as a crisis among white Americans, but increasingly, Black people are dying of overdoses at alarming rates. BostonGlobe.com, 9 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Or juxtapose it with bright white for a punchy, graphic effect. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Sep. 2021 It’s characterized by inflammation (redness and swelling) that occurs in the uvea, the layer and structures beneath the white of the eye. Cassie Shortsleeve, Good Housekeeping, 27 Aug. 2021 His portraits have a rich tonal range, from the whitest white to grays to the blackest black. Redeat Wondemu, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2021 Perhaps the only downside is that the white could discolor over time, but that remains to be seen. Maren Estrada, BGR, 10 Aug. 2021 At North Howard Street, a painting of Lamar Jackson hovers above bold graffiti letterings, the bright purple and gold No. 8 in his jersey standing out to the white of his uniform. Clara Longo De Freitas, baltimoresun.com, 10 Aug. 2021 The last northern white was spotted in the wild in 2006. Damon Casarez, Popular Mechanics, 2 Aug. 2021 On sale in some sizes in the color white, the rug features a clean geometric design in gray. Isabel Garcia, PEOPLE.com, 26 July 2021 Alongside the traditional white, this set has baby pink and light blue hues on the tips. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 21 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word '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 white


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for white


Middle English, from Old English hwīt; akin to Old High German hwīz white and probably to Old Church Slavonic světŭ light, Sanskrit śveta white, bright


Middle English, from white, adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About white

Time Traveler for white

Time Traveler

The first known use of white was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near white




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for white

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“White.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white. Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for white



English Language Learners Definition of white

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having the color of fresh snow or milk
: light or pale in color
: of or relating to a race of people who have light-colored skin and who come originally from Europe



English Language Learners Definition of white (Entry 2 of 2)

: the very light color of fresh snow or milk
: white clothing
: white clothes used to play sports


\ ˈhwīt How to pronounce white (audio) , ˈwīt \
whiter; whitest

Kids Definition of white

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of the color of fresh snow : colored white
2 : light or pale in color Her face was white with fear.
3 : silvery
4 often capitalized : of or relating to any of various groups of people having light pigmentation of the skin
5 : blank entry 1 sense 1 Do not write in white spaces on the page.
6 : not intended to cause harm white lies
7 : snowy sense 1 a white Christmas

Other Words from white

whiteness noun



Kids Definition of white (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the color of fresh snow
2 : the white part of something (as an egg)
3 : white clothing She is dressed in white.
4 : a person belonging to a group of people having light-colored skin

More from Merriam-Webster on white

Nglish: Translation of white for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of white for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about white


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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