\ ˈhwīt , ˈwīt \
whiter; whitest

Definition of white 

(Entry 1 of 13)

1a : free from color

b : of the color of new snow or milk specifically : of the color white

c : light or pallid in color white hair lips white with fear

d : lustrous pale gray : silvery also : made of silver

2a : being a member of a group or race characterized by light pigmentation of the skin

b : of, relating to, characteristic of, or consisting of white people or their culture

c [ from the former stereotypical association of good character with northern European descent ] : marked by upright fairness that's mighty white of you

3 : free from spot or blemish: such as

a(1) : free from moral impurity : innocent

(2) : marked by the wearing of white by the woman as a symbol of purity a white wedding

b : unmarked by writing or printing

c : not intended to cause harm a white lie white magic

d : favorable, fortunate one of the white days of his life —Sir Walter Scott

4a : wearing or habited in white

b : marked by the presence of snow : snowy a white Christmas

5a : heated to the point of whiteness

b : notably ardent : passionate white fury

6a : 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



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

2a : 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

3 : one that is or approaches white in color: such as

a : white clothing often used in plural

b : white wine

c : a white mammal (such as a horse or a hog)

d(1) : a white-colored product (such as flour, pins, or sugar) 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

4 whites plural : leukorrhea

5 : a person belonging to a light-skinned race

6 often capitalized : a member of a conservative or reactionary political group


whited; whiting

Definition of white (Entry 3 of 13)


biographical name (1)
\ ˈhwīt , ˈwīt \

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

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Other words from white


whitish \ˈhwī-tish, ˈwī- \ adjective

Examples of white in a Sentence


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.


the whites of his eyes The cake recipe calls for four egg whites.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Michael Grieves Cocoa Beach, Fla. Progressive elites agonizing over the conundrum of the white working class never gets old. WSJ, "Elites Miss the Point on Immigration Politics," 13 July 2018 Look for 50 to 150 white flowers in umbrella-like clusters with leaves up to five feet across. Sarah Klein, Health.com, "Giant Hogweed Sent This Virginia Teen to the Hospital. Here's What to Know About the Scary Plant That Can Burn Your Skin and Lead to Blindness," 13 July 2018 To better preserve guests’ night vision, white flashlights are banned, campfires are not allowed on the observation pads, and visitors are asked to arrive before sunset. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "These Are the Best Stargazing Spots in North America," 13 July 2018 The man was in his 50s and wearing shorts and a white T-shirt. David Harris, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando police find girl tied to tree in College Park with earbuds," 14 July 2018 In the video obtained by Fox 11, a woman in a white T-shirt is spotted moving from behind one outdoor wall to another. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "California dad recorded using child ‘like a baseball bat’ in confrontation with woman, police say," 13 July 2018 And so the legend is told: Florida is the place from which pickleball migrated to the Jersey shore, paddles and balls stashed in the trunks of white sedans with Florida plates driven by snowbirds to their summer homes. Amy S. Rosenberg, Philly.com, "Ocean City and the most cutthroat pickleball game at the Jersey Shore," 11 July 2018 Markle wore it with a simple white T-shirt underneath, and carried a little Givenchy bag with her, which was equally angular. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Meghan Markle’s Best Outfits in Ireland: An Explainer," 11 July 2018 Princess Charlotte wore a blue, flowered dress, while brother Prince George, who turns 5 later this month, was outfitted in a white shirt and blue shorts. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Duchess Meghan wears olive Ralph Lauren dress to baptism of Prince Louis," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Trump’s actions are an ethnic cleansing campaign in attempts to make America less diverse and keep whites in the majority in the U.S., says columnist Will Bunch. Oona Goodin-smith, Philly.com, "Families of Cosmo DiNardo murder victims speak out, Pa. to pay $2M to fight teacher shortage | Morning Newsletter," 13 July 2018 Vehicle theft 8900 block of Springtree Lake Drive in Sunrise, June 15, 5:43 a.m. Someone stole the stock tires and rims off a 2018 white Toyota Camry. Dan White, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Plantation, Sunrise area crime reports," 12 July 2018 Furthermore, Asians and whites earn more than blacks and Hispanics at all levels of the income ladder. David Carrig, USA TODAY, "Study: Asians displace blacks as most economically divided group," 12 July 2018 The first and second floors are dedicated to the humans and are swathed in cool grays and whites. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "This modern house is designed to support a dog’s health needs," 11 July 2018 The thief took the clerk’s keys and left with the female suspect, stealing a 2017 white Toyota Corolla with the California license plate 7VPV398. Teri Figueroa, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Pair demands free motel room, then steal clerk's car in Carlsbad," 9 July 2018 There will be a full bar that includes a mix of Old and New World Wins wines—two reds, two whites—along with top-shelf spirits, champagne, prosecco, coffees, teas, sodas, and fresh juices. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "This New Luxury Airline Is Offering Private Jet Travel at a Fraction of the Price," 9 July 2018 The Democrats want to get minorities out and the Republicans want to get their more middle-class whites out. Fox News, "Unions brace for fallout from SCOTUS's Janus decision," 8 July 2018 At this elevation—more than 3,000 feet—you’ll drink cold-weather whites like riesling and pinot gris. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Sydney: The Black Book," 5 July 2018

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.

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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 2a


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

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Dictionary Entries near white






White's thrush


Statistics for white

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for white

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

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More Definitions for white



English Language Learners Definition of white

: 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


\ ˈhwīt , 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 : belonging to a race of people having light-colored 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 : the opposite of black

2 : the white part of something (as an egg)

3 : white clothing She is dressed in white.

4 : a person belonging to a race of people having light-colored skin

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Comments on white

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


the setting in which something occurs

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