white·​ness | \ ˈ(h)wīt-nəs How to pronounce whiteness (audio) \

Definition of whiteness

1 : the quality or state of being white: such as
a : white color The whiteness of a diamond is the most important factor, unless you're buying a fancy color like yellow or pink.The New York Times Style Magazine
b : pallor, paleness … watching the way … his stomach hung pregnant over his belt, the whiteness of his skin, the blueness of his veins …— Zadie Smith
c : freedom from stain : cleanness During the day, housewives pegged out billowing sheets, knowing that here in the tough North they were judged on clean linen and the whiteness of the front doorstep …— Paul West
2 : something (such as an area or a substance) that is white in color … this widening in the river, a place indistinguishable in winter from the surrounding whiteness— John Hildebrand The curtains were being drawn across the aeroplane windows; a screen was lowered at the head of the cabin; images flickered on the whiteness ahead.— Shashi Tharoor This is a gelid whiteness, studded with a few bits of … fruit and altogether devoid of discernible flavor or sweetness.— Jay Jacobs
3 : the fact or state of belonging to a population group that has light pigmentation of the skin : the fact or state of being white (see white entry 1 sense 2a) Racial or color categories communicate the long-standing color scale in which lightness/whiteness is more desirable and more socially valued than darkness/blackness.— Nadine Fernandez Did I yearn to convert to whiteness? As a child, if it had been a matter of pushing a button, there were times when I would have pushed it as idly and insistently as a man waiting for an elevator.— Kenji Yoshino The proposition that whiteness, as such, has no content but is rather a negation, the identity of not-being-black, is a shocking revelation to most white Americans, who continue to imagine that there is a nonracist way of defining their whiteness in positive terms, although they are tongue-tied when asked to say what it is.— Orlando Patterson

Examples of whiteness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And seeing the character of Peggy Scott on The Gilded Age has opened audiences eyes to the reality that rich, worldly, and sophisticated Black people exist – and have existed for some time – irrespective of adjacency to whiteness. Lynnette Nicholas, Essence, 29 July 2022 And there are the games with color, the white fabrics that are never white, yet seem to blaze with the preternatural whiteness of sheets bleached and dried in the southern sun. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 15 June 2022 College gymnastics, spearheaded by UCLA, emerged as a counter to the stuffiness — the whiteness — of elite gymnastics. Amira Rose Davis, Los Angeles Times, 11 Mar. 2022 Even at a distance of fifty yards or so, the whiteness of his teeth was of a different order from the other players. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, 21 Jan. 2022 Still, as children of color are inundated with one representation of what Santa looks like, their reaction to a non-white Santa may reflect the whiteness around them. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 16 Dec. 2021 Hamid's novel is a compelling literary unpacking of whiteness. The Editors, Town & Country, 10 June 2022 Although her aesthetic has barely wavered, she’s been alternately held up as an anti-feminist symbol, an inspiration for young women, and an exemplar of out-of-touch whiteness. Nate Jones, Vulture, 25 Mar. 2021 Spotting a Guston from across a room is, in a way, spotting the painter’s own variety of whiteness. Lily Meyer, The Atlantic, 24 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whiteness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of whiteness

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near whiteness



white night

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Whiteness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiteness. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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