white (adj.)

Old English hwit "bright, radiant; clear, fair," also as a noun (see separate entry), from Proto-Germanic *hweit- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian hwit, Old Norse hvitr, Dutch wit, Old High German hwiz, German weiß, Gothic hveits), from PIE *kweid-o-, suffixed form of root *kweit- "white; to shine" (source also of Sanskrit svetah "white;" Old Church Slavonic sviteti "to shine," svetu "light;" Lithuanian šviesti "to shine," švaityti "to brighten").

As a surname, originally with reference to fair hair or complexion, it is one of the oldest in English, being well-established before the Conquest. Meaning "morally pure" was in Old English. Association with royalist causes is late 18c. Slang sense of "honorable, fair" is 1877, American English; in Middle English it meant "gracious, friendly, favorable." The racial sense "of those races (chiefly European or of European extraction) characterized by light complexion" is recorded from c. 1600; meaning "characteristic of or pertaining to white people" is from 1852, American English. White supremacy attested from 1868, American English [John H. Van Evrie, M.D., "White Supremacy and Negro Subordination," New York, 1868]; white flight is from 1966, American English.

White way "brightly illuminated street in a big city" is from 1908. White flag of truce or surrender is from c. 1600. White lie is attested from 1741. White Christmas is attested from 1847. White House as the name of the U.S. presidential residence is recorded from 1811. White water "river rapids" is recorded from 1580s. White Russian "language of Byelorussia" is recorded from 1850; the mixed drink is from c. 1978. Astronomical white dwarf is from 1924. White witch, one who used the power for good, is from 1620s.

white (n.)

Old English hwit "whiteness, white food, white of an egg," from white (adj.). Also in late Old English "a highly luminous color devoid of chroma." Meaning "white part of the eyeball" is from c. 1400. Meaning "white man, person of a race distinguished by light complexion" is from 1670s; white man in this sense is from 1690s. White man's burden is from Kipling's 1899 poem:

Take up the White Man's burden—
The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

updated on August 23, 2020

Definitions of white from WordNet
white (adj.)
being of the achromatic color of maximum lightness; having little or no hue owing to reflection of almost all incident light;
a bride's white dress
as white as fresh snow
white (adj.)
of or belonging to a racial group having light skin coloration;
voting patterns within the white population
white (adj.)
free from moral blemish or impurity; unsullied;
in shining white armor
white (adj.)
marked by the presence of snow;
a white Christmas
the white hills of a northern winter
Synonyms: snowy
white (adj.)
restricted to whites only;
a lily-white movement which would expel Negroes from the organization
under segregation there were even white restrooms and white drinking fountains
Synonyms: lily-white
white (adj.)
glowing white with heat;
white flames
a white-hot center of the fire
Synonyms: white-hot
white (adj.)
benevolent; without malicious intent;
that's white of you
white (adj.)
(of a surface) not written or printed on;
wide white margins
Synonyms: blank / clean
white (adj.)
(of coffee) having cream or milk added;
white (adj.)
(of hair) having lost its color;
the white hairs of old age
Synonyms: whitened
white (adj.)
anemic looking from illness or emotion; "lips...livid with the hue of death"- Mary W. Shelley;
lips white with terror
a face white with rage
Synonyms: ashen / blanched / bloodless / livid
white (adj.)
of summer nights in northern latitudes where the sun barely sets;
white nights
white (n.)
the quality or state of the achromatic color of greatest lightness (bearing the least resemblance to black);
Synonyms: whiteness
white (n.)
the white part of an egg; the nutritive and protective gelatinous substance surrounding the yolk consisting mainly of albumin dissolved in water;
she separated the whites from the yolks of several eggs
Synonyms: egg white / albumen / ovalbumin
white (n.)
(board games) the lighter pieces;
white (n.)
(usually in the plural) trousers made of flannel or gabardine or tweed or white cloth;
Synonyms: flannel / gabardine / tweed
white (v.)
turn white;
Synonyms: whiten
White (n.)
a Caucasian;
Synonyms: White person / Caucasian
White (n.)
United States jurist appointed chief justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1910 by President Taft; noted for his work on antitrust legislation (1845-1921);
Synonyms: Edward White / Edward D. White / Edward Douglas White Jr.
White (n.)
Australian writer (1912-1990);
Synonyms: Patrick White / Patrick Victor Martindale White
White (n.)
United States political journalist (1915-1986);
Synonyms: T. H. White / Theodore Harold White
White (n.)
United States architect (1853-1906);
Synonyms: Stanford White
White (n.)
United States writer noted for his humorous essays (1899-1985);
Synonyms: E. B. White / Elwyn Brooks White
White (n.)
United States educator who in 1865 (with Ezra Cornell) founded Cornell University and served as its first president (1832-1918);
Synonyms: Andrew D. White / Andrew Dickson White
White (n.)
a tributary of the Mississippi River that flows southeastward through northern Arkansas and southern Missouri;
Synonyms: White River
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.