Facts, History, and Meanings of the Color White

A collection of facts, history, meanings, uses, phrases, and lore about the color white.



History and Lore: White is a mixture of all colors. It symbolizes purity, joy, and innocence. The angels in early art were always draped in white. In Egypt the pharaoh wore a white crown to verify his dominion over Upper Egypt. Greeks wore white to cause pleasant dreams. Ancient Persians believed all gods wore white. In India it is the color of the holy men and women. In the Hindu Upanishads, the white color of the fire is considered to be the color of the water. In ancient Ireland white represented south. To the Navaho white denotes the eastern mountains and the creator of the day, and to the Hopi it denotes the east. To the Chinese white represents the west as well as being the symbol for metal and the traditional color for mourning. White was worn by those who mourned Julius Caesar. In Siam white elephants are sacred. A white flag is raised as a token of peaceful and friendly intentions or as a symbol of surrender. Many people consider it bad luck to be married in anything but a white garment.

Daily Uses: White is used to mark aisles and storage areas. It is used in hospitals for doctors' and nurses' uniforms. Because it can easily be seen at night, it is recommended that white be worn after dark while riding a bike or walking. It is often worn in hot climates, because it reflects heat. It also encourages good housekeeping and cleanliness.

Colorful Phrases: White Christmas, snow-white, white elephant, dead white, whitewash, white collar, white lies, white lightning.

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