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Six chess pieces, four white and two black.
The white of the eye of a white-skinned person.
A Pieris butterfly.
A glass of white wine.
An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white.

Alternative forms[edit]



From Middle English whit, hwit, from Old English hwīt, from Proto-Germanic *hwītaz (whence also West Frisian wyt, Dutch wit, German weiß, Norwegian hvit), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱweytos ‎(bright; shine). Compare Lithuanian šviẽsti ‎(to gleam), šviesa ‎(light), Old Church Slavonic свѣтъ ‎(světŭ, light), свѣтьлъ ‎(světĭlŭ, clear, bright), Persian سفید ‎(sefid), Avestan 𐬯𐬞𐬀𐬉𐬙𐬀 ‎(spaēta, white), Sanskrit श्वेत ‎(śvetá, white, bright).


white ‎(comparative whiter, superlative whitest)

  1. Bright and colourless; reflecting equal quantities of all frequencies of visible light.
    Write in black ink on white paper.
  2. (sometimes capitalized) Of or relating to Caucasians, people of European descent with light-coloured skin.
    • 1949, Wendell P. Alston, “The Green Book”, in The Negro Motorist Green Book, 1949 edition, New York: Victor H. Green, page 3:
      [] more white corporations cognizant of the mounting purchasing power of the Negro consumer, have Negro representatives in the field [].
  3. (chiefly historical) Designated for use by Caucasians.
    white drinking fountain;  white hospital
  4. Relatively light or pale in colour.
    white wine;  white grapes
  5. Pale or pallid, as from fear, illness, etc.
    • Lord Byron (1788-1824)
      Or whispering with white lips, "The foe! / They come! they come!"
  6. (of a person or skin) Lacking coloration (tan) from ultraviolet light; not tanned.
  7. (of coffee or tea) Containing cream, milk, or creamer.
  8. (board games, chess) The standard denomination of the playing pieces of a board game deemed to belong to the white set, no matter what the actual colour.
    The white pieces in this set are in fact made of light green glass.
  9. Pertaining to an ecclesiastical order whose adherents dress in white habits; Cistercian.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XIII, chapter ix:
      NOw rydeth Galahalt yet withouten shelde / and so rode four dayes without ony aduenture / And at the fourth day after euensonge / he came to a whyte Abbay / and there was he receyued with grete reuerence / and ledde vnto a chambre / and there was he vnarmed / And thenne was he ware of knyghtes of the table round
  10. Honourable, fair; decent.
    • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      White as thy fame, and as thy honour clear.
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      No whiter page than Addison's remains.
    • 1901, Hamlin Garland, Her Mountain Lover, page 51:
      “I’ll put you down at my club; and then, the governor will want to see you in the country.” / Jim had no idea of what was involved in being put down at a club, but he consented. “That ’s mighty white of you, old man, but I don’t know where I shall make down.”
    • G. K. Chesterton
      I trust Lionel. He got me out; he'll see I don't get in again. You must known Lionel. He's a white man all through, and the prison that can hold him has got to be made.
    • 1953, Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, Penguin, 2010, p.12:
      ‘We've only met twice and you've been more than white to me both times.’
    • 1976, United Church of Christ, A.D., number 1, page 34:
      Even decency has been regarded as a white or Christian attribute, as is evidenced by the expression "that's very white of you"
  11. Grey, as from old age; having silvery hair; hoary.
    • William Shakespeare (c.1564–1616)
      Your high engendered battles 'gainst a head / So old and white as this.
  12. (archaic) Characterized by freedom from that which disturbs, and the like; fortunate; happy; favourable.
    • Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
      On the whole, however, the dominie reckoned this as one of the white days of his life.
  13. (obsolete) Regarded with especial favour; favourite; darling.
    • Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400)
      Come forth, my white spouse.
    • John Ford (1586-c.1639)
      I am his white boy, and will not be gulled.
  14. (politics) Pertaining to constitutional or anti-revolutionary political parties or movements.
    • 1932, Duff Cooper, Talleyrand, Folio Society, 2010, p.163:
      Aimée de Coigny had always adopted with enthusiasm the political views of her ruling lover and she had thus already held nearly every shade of opinion from red republicanism to white reaction.
  15. (of tea) Made from immature leaves and shoots.
    • 2012, Mary Lou Heiss & ‎Robert J. Heiss, The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook, ISBN 1607743787:
      Most often consisting of a budset pluck, a frost tea has the clarity and freshness of a white tea, with the richness and lingering finish of a finely crafted black tea.
  16. (typography) Not containing characters; see white space.





white ‎(plural whites)

  1. The color/colour of snow or milk; the colour of light containing equal amounts of all visible wavelengths.
  2. A person of European descent with light-coloured skin.
  3. The albumen of bird eggs (egg white).
  4. (anatomy) The sclera, white of the eye.
  5. Any butterfly of the Pieris genus.
  6. (sports, billiards, snooker, pool) The cue ball in cue games.
  7. (countable and uncountable) White wine.
  8. (slang) Cocaine
  9. (archery) The central part of the butt, which was formerly painted white; the centre of a mark at which a missile is shot.
    • Shakespeare
      'Twas I won the wager, though you hit the white.
  10. A white pigment.
    Venice white


Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Colors in English · colors, colours (layout · text)
     red      green      yellow      cream      white
     crimson      magenta      teal      lime      pink
     indigo      blue      orange      gray, grey      violet
     black      purple      brown      azure, sky blue      cyan


white ‎(third-person singular simple present whites, present participle whiting, simple past and past participle whited)

  1. To make white; to whiten; to bleach.
    • Bible, Matthew xxiii. 27
      whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of [] uncleanness
    • Bible, Mark ix. 3
      so as no fuller on earth can white them


Most common English words before 1923: form · hundred · believe · #281: white · means · thus · order