\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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Actress Emma Watson certainly got the style memo, arriving to the game in an all-white outfit that was perfect for the summery event. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Emma Watson Might Be the Best-Dressed Celebrity at Wimbledon," 14 July 2018 As noted by Vogue, the actress and activist caught the eye of other attendees (and plenty of camera flashes) in a white three-piece suit, complete with a matching hat. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Emma Watson Wears White Three-Piece Suit at Wimbledon," 14 July 2018 They were acquitted by an all-male, all-white jury. Mary Schmich, chicagotribune.com, "The painful and necessary growth Emmett Till gave us," 13 July 2018 An all-white jury acquitted her husband and the other man even without it. CBS News, "Author of Emmett Till book gave FBI interview recordings," 13 July 2018 Two men who confessed to killing Emmett, only after they had been acquitted by an all-white jury in Mississippi, are dead. Alan Blinder, New York Times, "U.S. Reopens Emmett Till Investigation, Almost 63 Years After His Murder," 12 July 2018 An all-white jury later acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the two men responsible for his murder. Jasmine Hardy, Essence.com, "New Intel Prompts U.S. Government To Reopen Emmett Till Investigation," 12 July 2018 An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it. Jay Reeves, Anchorage Daily News, "‘New information’ prompts US to reopen investigation of brutal 1955 slaying of black teen," 12 July 2018 An all-white jury freed her husband and the other man even without it. Jay Reeves, BostonGlobe.com, "Government probing ‘new information’ in Emmett Till slaying," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Walk-around tasting event features 65+ summer wines - whites, dry rosés, sparklers, and lighter reds - with light appetizers, and live music. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Food and drink events: Cooking classes, wine tastings, more (Summer 2018 edition)," 6 July 2018 With environmental causes coded in these ways, down-playing or opposing them shored up electoral support among rural as well as many suburban whites, especially the working class. Christopher Sellers, Vox, "How Republicans came to embrace anti-environmentalism," 6 July 2018 And while the opioid crisis has been stereotyped as affecting mainly whites — who still made up the largest share of opioid overdoses in the city in 2017 — death rates among black opioid users are on the rise. Aubrey Whelan, Philly.com, "West Philadelphia nervously watches as fentanyl kills the unsuspecting," 5 July 2018 Skomal said that his team spotted three great whites, two near the Head of the Meadows beach in Truro and a third off Race Point in Provincetown. John R. Ellement, BostonGlobe.com, "There have been 7 shark sightings in 2 days on the Cape — and more are expected," 3 July 2018 The crowd included a representative sampling of the area, including whites, Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims and young children, Arreola said. Gloria Casas, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin Township official whose mother was deported among speakers at Elgin rally against immigration policy," 30 June 2018 Now a sleek, towering glass shower and Jacuzzi bathtub sit on white, swirly marble tile. Zahria Rogers, The Courier-Journal, "Modern meets antique. This Norton Commons cottage is the perfect combo," 21 June 2018 Despite Texas' steadily growing Hispanic population, the U.S. Census Bureau predicted that for the nation as a whole, non-Hispanic whites will; remain the majority for at least the next 40 years. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Hispanics in Texas slated to become majority population by 2022," 21 June 2018 Increasingly so more whites are realizing that the economically center left and socially, culturally conservative part of FDR and JFK no longer exist. Fox News, "Democrats target SCOTUS candidate Amy Coney Barrett," 6 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.

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about white

Dictionary Entries near white






White's thrush


Statistics for white

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for white

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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