\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

Synonyms & Antonyms for white

Synonyms: Adjective

colorless, tintless [archaic], uncolored, undyed, unpainted, unstained

Antonyms: Adjective

colored, colorized, dyed, hued, painted, pigmented, stained, tinct, tinctured, tinged, tinted

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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

It can be covered in glamorous white that makes the gold on buildings like Kirche am Steinhof even shinier. Nina Sovich, WSJ, "Europe in Winter: 35 Reasons to Visit Off-Season," 21 Nov. 2018 The house adheres to its strict color palette of pale wood, white paint, gray concrete, and black accents. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Chic black chalet does cabin in the woods right," 9 Nov. 2018 Every item in the collection comes in a stunning white with gold detailing. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Celebrity Hairstylist Kristin Ess Unveiled Her Target Line of Hair Styling Appliances," 7 Nov. 2018 In the 16th century, The Golden Hind was exploring South America’s Strait of Magellan when a Welsh sailor aboard noticed a black-and-white aquatic bird. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Penguins," 6 Nov. 2018 The tape might be mundane, but the primer and flat white paint used on the chassis is not. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New Mars rover gets high-tech paint job for harsh conditions on Mars," 11 Oct. 2018 Her black-and-white striped jacket was also a focal point during the somewhat disastrous evening between Rebecca and Jack. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'This Is Us' Fans Are Obsessed With Rebecca's Beret From the Season 3 Premiere," 26 Sep. 2018 Eugenie might be walking down the aisle in white soon, but this Jane Taylor fascinator was worn by the mom of three. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: Can You Match the Hat to the Royal?," 14 Sep. 2018 The companies are largely white and male, especially in technical and leadership roles. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "Microsoft sees modest upticks in representation of women, minority employees," 14 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Among those who believe the split is reversed and blacks have more advantages than whites, 77% are Republicans. Janet Hook, WSJ, "Midterm Results Produce a Split Congress," 7 Nov. 2018 Smoking is one reasons Native Americans have a 40 percent higher rate of death than whites, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "What a new WSU study tells us about the earliest days of smoking tobacco in the Northwest," 30 Oct. 2018 Also troubling, black and Hispanic patients are less likely than whites to receive a kidney from a living donor, and a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year found the disparity is growing. Fox News, "Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation," 10 Sep. 2018 The rate at which black residents were detained for traffic or pedestrian stops was more than six times higher than whites, according to the ACLU's analysis. Ivan Moreno, chicagotribune.com, "Milwaukee to pay $3.4 million over police stop-and-frisk policy," 11 July 2018 Diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye that can lead to blindness, is 46 percent more prevalent in African-Americans than whites. Francine Knowles, Daily Southtown, "Knowles: Southland optometrist focuses on fighting diabetes," 3 July 2018 Black riders also waited 52% longer than whites for taxis. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Blacks face longer wait times on Uber, Lyft than other races — and it's worse for taxis," 27 June 2018 And for people without retirement benefits (primarily lower-paying jobs and people of color at higher rates than whites), Social Security is often the main source of income in retirement. Alan Barber, Fortune, "Ivanka Trump’s Paid Leave Policy Would Be Disastrous. Here Are Some Better Options," 15 June 2018 Black residents were hospitalized for overdoses at a slightly higher rate than whites — 67.5 admissions per 100,000 residents vs. 65.9. Aubrey Whelan, Philly.com, "Pa. hospital admissions for heroin overdoses increase even as pain-med overdoses decline," 13 June 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

5 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on white

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with white

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for white

Spanish Central: Translation of white

Nglish: Translation of white for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of white for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about white

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).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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