whiteness

noun

white·​ness ˈ(h)wīt-nəs How to pronounce whiteness (audio)
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 whitenessJohn 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 But through comedy, Edelman uses the experience to spark bigger conversations about identity, whiteness and the limits of empathy. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2024 Something about minimalism and whiteness comes to mind. Caterina De Biasio, Vogue, 16 Feb. 2024 Hilfiger has helped set the codes for the collective definition of contemporary American fashion, but sartorial sensibilities like prep, varsity, and Americana often feel exclusively related or intrinsic to whiteness. Vogue Runway, Vogue, 15 Feb. 2024 My maternal relatives are mainly light-skinned and have had more access to educational and professional opportunities due to direct proximity to whiteness and wealth. Maya Richard-Craven, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Its whiteness, straightness, and patriarchal rigidity had already begun to drift far afield from the energy of young America in the 1960s; by the time All in the Family premiered, shows like Leave It to Beaver already felt like cultural relics. Vulture, 6 Dec. 2023 Ford smartly connects these efforts to the establishment of whiteness in America. Jourdain Searles, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 Those 15 seconds are only a brief glimpse into the full 20-minute recording, during which Teer emphasizes the importance of allowing Black individuality to flourish in creative spaces without having to view that work through the lens of whiteness. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 13 Dec. 2023 Both, Karim-Cooper contends, overtly and subtly elevate whiteness and denigrate Blackness, rendering true inclusion practically impossible. John Douglas Thompson, New York Times, 18 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whiteness.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near whiteness

Cite this Entry

“Whiteness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiteness. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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