A Writers Guide to White

white

White is truth. White is innocence. In many cultures white is associated with openness. In chromotherapy, white helps provide mental clarity and encourages new beginnings.

White is the presence of all color. White clothing reflects heat because it reflects all visible wavelengths. Albinism is the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. An example of this is pictured below. Note that an organism with a diminished amount of pigment is leucistic or albinoid, and their eyes are the normal color for the species.

Chromophobia*

  • Fear of white: leukophobia
wallaby

albino wallaby

Symbolism

  • White symbolizes protection and precision.
  • White symbolizes purity and virginity.
  • White symbolizes peace, humility, and faith.
  • White is associated with good, innocence, perfection, honesty, cleanliness, and beginnings.

Superstitions and Beliefs

  • In most Western countries, bridal gowns are white to represent purity.
  • In many Eastern cultures, white is the color for mourning and funerals.
  • In Asian counties, white is the color of reincarnation.
  • White was also the color of mourning for medieval European queens.
  • To Buddhists, white is the color of redemption.
  • In Hinduism, white symbolizes pure consciousness and light.
  • Ancient Greeks wore white to bed to ensure pleasant dreams.
  • In ancient Egypt, white was associated with the goddess Isis. The priests and priestesses of Isis dressed in white linen.
  • In ancient Rome, the priestesses of the goddess Vesta dressed in white.
  • In Thailand, it is unlucky to wear white on Tuesdays.
  • In Thailand, a white elephant is considered auspicious.
  • Some American Indian tribes consider white a lucky color.
  • White daisies symbolize innocence.
  • White roses symbolize innocence and purity.
    • A combination of white and red roses represents unity.
  • White jasmine is the Hindu symbol for love.
  • In Christianity, white lilies represent the Virgin Mary.
  • In ancient Egypt, white represented purity and omnipotence. Many sacred animals were white.
  • In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, white was worn by widows who were in mourning.
  • In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, a white unicorn symbolized chastity and a white lamb symbolized sacrifice and purity.
  • American Indians associate white face paint with sharing, peace, and purity, and white war paint with mourning.
  • Dreaming of a white horse is said to be foreboding or represent death.
  • White is associated with ghosts and phantoms.

White History

  • In heraldry, silver or white (argent) signifies truth, sincerity, peace, innocence and purity.
  • In ancient Egypt, white clothing and sandals were worn during religious rituals.
  • The ancient Romans had two words for white: albus, a plain white and candidus, a brighter white.
  • In ancient Rome, a white toga was a symbol of citizenship.
  • French kings often wore white as a symbol of their royalty while the queens wore black.
  • It wasn’t until the Renaissance period that artist began mixing white with other colors.
  • In Shintoism, a sacred place, called a niwa, is marked with white gravel or stones.
  • The Queen of the United Kingdom traditionally wears white when she opens the session of Parliament.
  • In high society, debutantes traditionally wear white for their first ball.
chalk

chalk

Pigment & Dyes

  • Calcite, or chalk, was one the first white pigment used by Paleolithic artists.
  • The ancient Greeks used lead white. Lead white was used until the late 20th century. It was toxic.

Phrases and Sayings

Like white on rice – a USA phrase meaning to do something extremely close to something else
Pearly whites – teeth
White as a sheet – pale, frightened
White as the driven snow – pure, clean, innocent
White Christmas – the appearance of snow on Christmas day
White-collar – someone working in management
White elephant – something rare and valuable but perhaps unwanted, in the United States it refers to a party game where party-goers bring an unusual, odd, useless, or weird gift to exchange with someone else.
White feather – a symbol of cowardice
White flag – surrender, truce
White hot – intensely enthusiastic, glowing white with heat
White knight – someone who comes to another person’s rescue, someone perceived as being good
White knuckle – something that is fast, exciting, or frightening
White lie – a harmless untruth usually told out of politeness
White lightning – moonshine (illegal whiskey)
White list – list of good or acceptable items
Whiteout – zero visibility
White sale – sale of sheets, towels, and other linens
Whitewash – cover up, concealment

Meanings of Shades of White

  • Cream or ivory: calmness, elegance, sense of history

Words for White

A shade of white is a neutral gray. Off-whites have a hint of a secondary color.

Just White
achromic
alabaster
argent
baby powder
bleached
bloodless
chalk/ chalky
fair
frosted
ghastly
ghost
lily-white
limestone
linen
milk / milky
pallid
pasty
pearly
snow
whitewash
Gray-whites
ashen
eggshell
graying
hoary
pearl
silvery
whey
~
Blue-Whites
magnolia
white smoke
~
Green-White
mint cream
~
Pink-Whites
antique white
old lace
seashell
Yellow-Whites
blond/blonde
cornsilk
cream
flax /flaxen
lemon chiffon
Navajo white
~
Orange-Whites
blanched
papaya
peach
~
Brown-Whites
beige
bone
champagne
Dutch white
ivory
smoke
vanilla

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White and You

Are you wearing white right now?
You are so positive today! You are well balanced and optimistic.

Look in your closet. Is white a predominate color in your wardrobe?
You are very positive. You are optimistic and highly individual, perhaps a loner or lonely. You crave a simplified life.

Do you just dislike the color white?
You feel the need to make a clean break.

Do you drive a white car?
You are direct.

*Chromophobia, also known as chromatophobia or chrematophobia, is a persistent, irrational fear of, or aversion to, colors and is usually a conditioned response. Color phobis are often caused by a traumatic experience from the past, usually childhood. The color becomes associated with the trauma but the individual may not remember the event or realize the connection. It could also be culturally related with meanings attached to the color. Conditioning or brain chemistry may also be the cause. While actual clinical phobias to color are rare, colors can elicit hormonal responses and psychological reactions. Reactions include heart palpations, panic, sweating, breathlessness, nausea, shaking, dizziness, and dry mouth. Treatments include behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, and psychotherapy.

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Use white wisely in writing, painting,
decorating, and in your wardrobe!

How much white do you have in your wardrobe?

colorindex

Sources:
The wardrobe portion of this post was created using The Complete Book of Color by Suzy Chizzari.
The car information from Today.
awesome white sphere and series logo by me!
wallaby by clipart.com
chalk by Wikimedia.org
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14 Comments

  1. As always, excellent exploration of the color. I love white. It is a great color to wear, as long as you are over the age of 12.

  2. I am wearing white right now.

    Thanks for another interesting color post!

  3. I think a white blouse makes any outfit look good. However, I seem to get something (coffee stain, dirt, ink pen mark, etc.) on a white blouse quicker than I can turn around. LOL

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

  4. It's really amazing how color is associated with so much meaning. Interesting too, how in fashion, they used to say not to wear white after Labor Day, that it's only a summer color!

  5. I own some white t-shirts – does that count for wardrobe?

  6. This is really interesting 🙂

  7. Not a big fan of white, but I think it is the PR. The color itself doesn't bother me, but I can't abide that whole purity thing… it annoys me. And the black/white dichotomy? don't believe in it. The white hats are either NOT fully white or they are BORING…

  8. Thanks for this – I use white a lot in my WIP and I just picked up another way to add into the mix!:)

  9. I like using white for accents in my house. I don't wear it much because it looks like I've worn it two days before I leave the room.

  10. I love wearing white…but I really shouldn't…if you know what I mean ~wink wink~

  11. It's amazing the definitions you've found for white. White list is one I've never heard have. Fascinating.
    Ann

  12. Cheeseboy are you saying it isn’t prudent to put a 5-year-old a nice white shirt and send them out to play?

    I have Mason’s problem and I pretty sure we are both older than twelve. White just attracts coffee and tomato-based products.

    Alex I sure hope tees count as wardrobe!

  13. Hilary Melton-Butcher said…
    Hi .. a creamy top .. and white is clean isn't it – or perhaps fresh looking is a better word.

    I always think of Procul Harenm's a whiter shade of pale … when white comes up .. then I'm off an singing to myself and remembering younger days (much!) ..

    Thanks for all the info .. great to read about .. Hilary

  14. Andrea Mack said…
    I love your colour posts! Colour is actually fairly significant in the world I've created for my latest novel, so it's neat to read your research.

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