\ 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

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Other Words from white


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for white

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There are oversized, black-and-white photographs of the two Baltimore teams, Negro Leagues history timelines, and reproductions of old jerseys. Jeff Barker, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore Negro Leagues star Leon Day to be featured at new exhibit; It’s ‘awesome,’ says O’s Cedric Mullins," 8 May 2021 The employment to population ratio, a key job-market figure for economists, has improved by 6.5 percentage points for Black and white people in the US from a year ago, when unemployment peaked. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Black Americans are still being left behind in the US job market recovery," 7 May 2021 Then, the 4-pound rotorcraft will climb to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters) to take color and black-and-white images of this new airfield. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Mars helicopter is flying one-way to a new destination," 7 May 2021 This comes to a head during the presentation, when Brad cuts Rachel off ten seconds into her somber black-and-white PowerPoint presentation. Ben Rosenstock, Vulture, "Mythic Quest Recap: Maybe It’s the Estrogen," 7 May 2021 With graying hair, a burly build and a starched white shirt, Martinez cuts the classic image of a Texas sheriff. Dudley Althaus, San Antonio Express-News, "From ruined economies to tiny Del Rio," 6 May 2021 The official Twitter account for Prince Charles, Harry's father, and Duchess Camilla shared a black-and-white photo of Charles, Harry and Archie, also at the christening. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Archie turns 2: Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan urge advocacy for son's birthday, royals pay tribute," 6 May 2021 Surely there’s a better way to cultivate knowledge than today’s endless grid of black-and-white papers. Benjamin Mazer, The Atlantic, "Scientific Publishing Is a Joke," 6 May 2021 What might have felt like a trendy statement in 2000 has somehow become a forever staple in her closet that gets pulled out regularly and paired with a simple knit or white t-shirt. Be yourself. Rickie De Sole, Vogue, "7 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Mom, a Fashion Industry Veteran," 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The soft sateen duvet cover is reversible, with ivory on one side and white on the other. Kara Cuzzone, Forbes, "The Best Deals To Shop This Weekend, Including $73 Off The Latest Apple Watch," 7 May 2021 This pack of three rings comes in savory sky blue, sweet cherry red, and common transparent white. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Accessories for Instant Pots," 4 May 2021 For a 2021 take on white or creamier shades of denim, try a roomy barrel or slouchy straight leg. Laura Lajiness, Vogue, "Vogue’s Ultimate Guide to the Best High-Waisted Jeans," 3 May 2021 In the able-bodied white-out of our small town, here was his disabled body inhabiting our heroes. Brian Trapp, Longreads, "You Robbie, You Baka," 30 Apr. 2021 In our world of all-or-nothing, black-or-white and polarizing extremes, too many Americans refuse to consider middle grounds, big pictures or the long term. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Thoroughbred retirement farm rethinks debate about horse racing and its stars," 29 Apr. 2021 The current jury includes people who are Black, Asian, Latino and white. Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. judge says Asian jurors in domestic violence case were improperly excused because of their race," 29 Apr. 2021 Avoid bold, trendy colors, and instead look for white or neutrals. Lindsey M. Roberts Special To The Washington Post, Star Tribune, "5 classic kitchen design choices that will stand the test of time," 29 Apr. 2021 At a later point, Khater can be seen holding a white can of chemical spray in his hand, according to court records. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "New videos show assault on Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick," 29 Apr. 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.

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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 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

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Time Traveler for white

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for white

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“White.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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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 : 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

Comments on white

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