White might bring to mind things like clean sheets, fluffy clouds, or crisp nurses’ uniforms. Many see the color white as a sign of cleanliness, purity, and truth. However, many more associations are related to the color white. In this article, we will be dealing with the meaning of the white color, along with all its positive and negative traits.
Table of Contents
- 1 Meaning of the Color White
- 2 Psychological Meaning of the Color White
- 3 Personality Traits Associated With the Color White
- 4 Physical Effects of White on the Body
- 5 The Color White in Different Cultures
- 6 Meaning of Shades of White
- 7 Is White a Chakra Color?
- 8 Interesting Phrases, Idioms, and Famous Quotes About the Color White
- 9 Some Fun Facts About the Color White
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Meaning of the Color White
There are many colors, but white is not one of them. Like black, white is achromatic and neutral, does not feature in any color model, and is not considered a hue.
White light is a combination of all the colors in the visible spectrum, which you can consider as a type of color that can be used for different purposes.
Like all other colors, white also has many associations and meanings, depending on how people perceive the color. Often, various influences like cultural differences can create changing views on the subject.
In most cases, white is a color that represents purity, simplicity, innocence, and virtue. Some might find white refreshing, while others find it boring.
White is a color that represents perfection and new beginnings. There are many positive as well as negative meanings when it comes to white, let us have a look at a summary of them.
|CMYK Color Code (%)
|RGB Color Code
|0, 0, 0, 0
|255, 255, 255
Positive Traits of the Color White
- New beginnings
Negative Traits of the Color White
Psychological Meaning of the Color White
You would be surprised how color can influence the decisions you make every day, and how colors can evoke different feelings. Artists and designers make use of this knowledge to create intriguing art and to influence how you react to products and services.
White may be neutral, and it may seem impartial, however, it has a profound effect on our emotions and minds.
Symbolism of White
White is untainted and is the very definition of simplicity. White can be seen as a clean canvas or blank page, where you can start over.
White is clean and pure, a symbol of everything good, and revealing everything unpleasant in comparison. White provides light and understanding, often being associated with learning and knowledge.
Of course, white is also a common symbol of peace.
Purity and Innocence of White
Following on from the above symbolism, white is pure and innocent. This association is often displayed when brides wear white for the wedding and depict purity, which refers to the bride’s virginity.
Baby clothes are often white, as they are the physical representation of innocence. White represents grace, beauty, and all good things.
Because of its connection to purity, it is often perceived as a spiritual color.
Freshness of White
The clean and pure look of white is what provides its freshness. White is often the color worn in summer because it has a cooling effect and goes with any other color.
The white color does this by reflecting sunlight and heat. In marketing, white is often used to promote diet products as it makes them feel like they are starting fresh and helping to purify the body.
Simplicity of White
White can represent a type of emptiness, which is ideal for creating new beginnings, opportunities, or ideas. The white color is associated with simplicity and is often used to create a minimalistic look. However, it still manages to add a certain amount of sophistication.
Personality Traits Associated With the Color White
Many people have a favorite color, and this can reveal certain common personality traits. White is not the first “color” most people would choose. However, if you prefer white, it can indicate that you prefer the simple things in life.
Preferring the color white can indicate that a person is a perfectionist and prefers an ordered environment. White personalities are also naturally optimistic, practical, honest, and peace-loving.
They often criticize others and are critical of themselves but have good self-control and do not like impulsive behavior. On the negative side, white personalities may come across as hostile and cold.
Physical Effects of White on the Body
Besides affecting emotions, white can also affect our minds and bodies. White is the perfect color that can help to provide clarity of thought. The white color can help to calm and quiet the mind, helping to improve concentration. However, too much white can be overwhelming, blinding, cold, and uncomfortable.
The Color White in Different Cultures
In most Western cultures, white is the same as we have discussed thus far, often associated with peace, purity, cleanliness, weddings, and hospitals. However, in other cultures, white can have completely different associations and meanings.
- Eastern cultures: In many of the Eastern cultures, white is often seen as the color for mourning. White is also a sign of bad luck and is associated with sadness and funerals.
- India: When a husband dies, the widow must wear only white afterward.
- Brazil: The people often dress up in white on New Year’s Eve, as it is a color of peace and purity.
- Peru: In this South American country, white is associated with angels and health.
Meaning of Shades of White
Pure white is a neutral color that has no hue. However, the different shades of white can vary, depending on the undertone. This means that a specific shade of white can have a warm or cool undertone, such as yellow or blue.
This undertone is what sets the mood, the white bringing in the brightness. Below are three examples of shades of white.
|CMYK Color Code (%)
|RGB Color Code
|0, 0, 0, 0
|255, 255, 255
|0, 0, 6, 0
|255, 255, 240
|2, 0, 0, 0
|251, 255, 255
|4, 0, 0, 0
|245, 254, 253
Ivory is a shade of white that has yellow undertones. This makes ivory a warmer white than the stark pure white. The name is derived from the tusks of certain animals, for example, an elephant.
The tusks are made from ivory, which is a similar color. Even though there is a warmer undertone, ivory still has many meanings similar to white, such as purity and innocence.
However, it also represents luxury and has a calming effect.
This is an off-white that has a subtle bluish-green undertone. This color is in reference to the chalk used with chalkboards, which is most commonly used at schools.
The color is very pale and can be considered mostly white. The meaning of white will be the same for this shade, the difference being it offers a more calming and cooler look.
As the saying goes, “as white as snow”, it is easy to conjure up images of snow-covered mountains, snow angels, and snowmen. The image evokes feelings of winter and cold, but also hot comforting mugs of cocoa and warm fires.
There are other versions of snow, the one in the table has a bluish undertone.
However, there are other versions you might come across that lean more toward a reddish undertone.
Is White a Chakra Color?
When dealing with the body and its well-being, chakras play an important role in keeping the body balanced. There are seven principal chakras, each corresponding to a certain area on the body, which follows the spine.
Each chakra is connected to a specific color, for example, the crown chakra, which is the seventh chakra that sits on top of the head, is violet. White forms part of the crown chakra and is said to be one of the more significant aura colors.
The white is associated with perfection, strength, protection, truth, determination, and purity. It is also said to be a link to the divine and everything spiritual. The white chakra is a symbol of unity with the universe.
If you have a blocked crown chakra, instead of white, the color may seem dull and gray. The blocked chakra can cause feelings of disconnectedness, depression, and apathy. To help unblock this chakra and to regain balance, you can try various things.
Meditation, yoga, and meditation are often recommended by professionals in this area. Taking walks and connecting with nature is also an idea, as well as connecting and surrounding yourself with people who encourage you.
Interesting Phrases, Idioms, and Famous Quotes About the Color White
Idioms are a means of expressing yourself and making your vocabulary a little more colorful, interesting, and fun. Just like all other colors, white also has its fair share of idioms. Many famous artists and celebrities have also added their quotes on the matter.
Phrases and Idioms About the Color White
There are some well-known idioms out there about the color white. Some, such as, “white lies” most people know about, meaning that the lie is seemingly harmless. Below are some other examples that may be familiar, and maybe a few that are not.
- White flag: When you raise a white flag, it means that you are offering a truce or surrendering.
- White as a ghost: If you have been given a fright or you are in shock, you may appear to be pale or “white as a ghost”.
- White elephant: When you have bought something expensive, and it then ends up sitting unused in the garage.
- Whitelist: If your name appears on a whitelist, it means that you form part of a list of people who are trustworthy and acceptable.
- Whitewash: This term is used when someone is trying to conceal the facts about a situation.
- White knuckles: When a feeling comes that is extreme, which can be fear or excitement.
- Whiteout: This occurs mostly in areas where it snows. It is a weather condition where the snow causes major visibility issues and the horizon and land features become indistinguishable.
A Few Famous White Color Quotes
Since painters deal with colors all the time, there are likely a few famous quotes. For example, Aldro Thompson Hibbard (1886 – 1972), an American plein air painter, said,” Never use pure white; it doesn’t exist in nature.” However, he might have just been quoting another famous French artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919). See below for a few more famous white quotes.
- “The color of white is the absence of memory”, by the author Stephen King.
- “White. A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities” by American composer Stephen Sondheim.
- “I call white the most powerful non-color; it’s clean, optimistic, powerful” by artist and fashion designer Jason Wu.
- “White is pure and simple and matches with everything” by fashion designer Christian Dior.
- “A white Christmas is many a child’s dream” by author Anthony T. Hincks.
Some Fun Facts About the Color White
Snow is a common thought when thinking of the color white. Snow is made from small ice crystals and air, so when light hits the frozen crystals, it is reflected and scattered and appears white. If the light bounces among the water molecules and air before being scattered, it appears like the snow is glistening.
Polar bears and other white animals are white, which acts as camouflage for them. If white light is refracted, it will produce all the colors of the rainbow, which is what happens when the light is scattered by water droplets in the sky when it rains.
Historically, a white unicorn was often mentioned in manuscripts or depicted in paintings. This is because the white unicorn was a symbol of grace, purity, and chastity.
Another historical fact, in Greece, white was the color purity, so they used to wear white garments to bed. They believed that it could ensure good dreams. Lastly, the white coat doctors wear started in the 19th century. White was chosen because it embodied hope for healing.
White, even though not considered a color, still has a profound influence over our emotions and minds. White can seem clean, pure, and calming, or it can be cold, distant, and boring. It all depends on how you use it. White can be the canvas with which you are able to create anything you want. Ultimately, it is not about what white is not, rather, it is about its potential and what it can do for you in the right circumstances.
Take a look at our white color meaning webstory here!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does White Symbolize?
The most common associations for the white color include virtue, purity, and cleanness. White also represents peace, simplicity, and perfection, to name a few. These are also positive attributes, however, white can also be cold, sterile, and unexciting.
Why Do Designers Use White?
White is the perfect backdrop; its brightness can be used to create a sense of space or openness. The color white is also versatile and can be used with any other color to achieve a desired look.
Is White a Symbol of Life or Death?
In this case, the meaning of white will vary according to the country or culture. For some, white represents purity, life, and innocence, while for others it is associated with death and grief.
In 2005, Charlene completed her Wellness Diplomas in Therapeutic Aromatherapy and Reflexology from the International School of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy. She worked for a company offering corporate wellness programs for a couple of years, before opening up her own therapy practice. It was in 2015 that a friend, who was a digital marketer, asked her to join her company as a content creator, and this is where she found her excitement for writing.
Since joining the content writing world, she has gained a lot of experience over the years writing on a diverse selection of topics, from beauty, health, wellness, travel, and more. Due to various circumstances, she had to close her therapy practice and is now a full-time freelance writer. Being a creative person, she could not pass up the opportunity to contribute to the Art in Context team, where is was in her element, writing about a variety of art and craft topics. Contributing articles for over three years now, her knowledge in this area has grown, and she has gotten to explore her creativity and improve her research and writing skills.
Charlene Lewis has been working for artincontext.org since the relaunch in 2020. She is an experienced writer and mainly focuses on the topics of color theory, painting and drawing.
Cite this Article
Charlene, Lewis, “Meaning of the Color White – The Simplicity of a Neutral Shade.” Art in Context. December 28, 2023. URL: https://artincontext.org/meaning-of-the-color-white/
Lewis, C. (2023, 28 December). Meaning of the Color White – The Simplicity of a Neutral Shade. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/meaning-of-the-color-white/