\ ˈ(h)wīt How to pronounce white (audio) \
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
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
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)
\ 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 whitish (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 The Sacred Pancasila Monument is a large white marble wall with lifesize figures representing the victims of the September 30th Movement standing in front of it. Vincent Bevins, The New York Review of Books, "How ‘Jakarta’ Became the Codeword for US-Backed Mass Killing," 20 May 2020 The column pointed out that the court is entirely white and all of its members are from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Judicial Council picks 4 finalists for Supreme Court vacancy," 20 May 2020 That year, when the white-hot race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for Oregon Democrats’ votes prompted exceptional turnout of 54%. oregonlive, "Voter turnout has topped 30% in Oregon primary with 30 hours to go," 18 May 2020 They were painted in white chalk on Friday morning and measure eight feet in diameter and are six feet apart, a spokesperson for the park confirmed to Travel + Leisure. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "This Brooklyn Park Painted Circles on the Grass to Ensure Social Distancing," 18 May 2020 The 62-year-old billionaire, dressed formally for the occasion in a dark suit, white-striped shirt and blue tie, was far more somber than in the previous earnings conference. Pavel Alpeyev, Fortune, "SoftBank’s problems mount as Vision Fund hemorrhages billions and Jack Ma quits the board," 18 May 2020 Dodd spent the day handing out gifts and cards to war veteran fathers, and local boys decorated their lapels with red and white roses. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, "Meet the Man Who Inspired Father’s Day: A War Veteran and Single Dad with 14 Kids," 18 May 2020 Taylor's death has ignited a firestorm across the nation in recent weeks, as prominent voices questioned why an unarmed black woman had been gunned down by white officers. Tessa Duvall, The Courier-Journal, "Federal lawsuit calls officer in Breonna Taylor shooting a 'dirty cop' with a 'vendetta'," 18 May 2020 Professor Bullock draws a parallel to the last American mass lynching, which happened in Georgia in 1946 when two African American couples were killed by a white mob at Moore’s Ford Bridge on the Appalachee River. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Ahmaud Arbery case, unexpected advocates for racial justice," 18 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Blacks have had worse cancer death rates than other groups, but that also has been improving at a greater rate than for whites. NBC News, "Study ties 'Obamacare' to fewer cancer deaths in some states," 15 May 2020 Latinos had the the highest unemployment rate, at nearly 19%, compared with 14.2% for whites. Los Angeles Times, "New York to expand coronavirus testing for minority and low-income communities," 9 May 2020 The peak rate for black Americans, at 16.8%, was nearly twice that for whites. The Economist, "Free exchange Why the unemployed in America could face a lost decade," 2 May 2020 The rate was 4% for adult men, 4% for adult women, 14.3% for teenagers, 4.0% for whites, 6.7% for blacks, 4.1% for Asians, and 6.0% for Hispanics. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, "The economy lost 701,000 jobs and unemployment rose to 4.4% in March as pandemic struck," 3 Apr. 2020 The order ignored evidence that the disease was spread by rats, not humans — and the quarantine applied only to Chinese Americans, carving out a handful of homes and other buildings owned by whites. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Courts give governments wide latitude when epidemics, like coronavirus, threaten public health," 22 Mar. 2020 In the United States, the history of segregation — when many beaches and trails were reserved for whites only — can help inhibit many people of color from engaging with the great outdoors. Mélissa Godin, Time, "7 Female Trekkers Who Helped Reclaim Nature, One Step at a Time," 28 Feb. 2020 One is Hank Thomas, who was a Freedom Rider — activists who protested segregation by sitting in bus seats reserved for whites and who experienced violence and jail. Washington Post, "High-tech Chicago exhibit puts visitors eye-to-eye with MLK," 28 Feb. 2020 According to Be The Match, the ethnic disparity in the donor pool means the likelihood of finding a match is greatest for whites — 77 percent. David Tarrant, Dallas News, "She signed up to donate bone marrow 20 years ago. Then a Dallas-area boy needed help," 15 Feb. 2020

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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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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“White.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for white


How to pronounce White (audio)

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.
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for white

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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