White is proper, innocent and clean. The white dress stands for innocence and virginity, the white suit for extravagance. White is achromatic, but a mix of all colours in the additive colour scheme.

White DragonWhite Dragon | photo: Frank Fox (cc-by-sa)


What is white?

So, if our eyes receive the same amount of coloured light (red, green, blue) as an equal mix, we see white light. Contrary to black, white is the total presence of light.
If the intensity of the mixed light waves is too low however, we experience grey.

There is a saying "at night, all cats are grey", referring to this effect.
White, together with all the shades of grey, as well as black, belongs to the group of achromatic colours.

At night all cats are greyAt night all cats are grey | photo: (cc-by-nc) ryanne lai

Symbolism of white (western countries)

In western countries, white mostly appears under happy circumstances. White wedding dresses for example. It is the colour of innocence, clean and proper. White clothing also may express extravagance, as well as maidenhood (since white cloth is unstained). Therefore it is often related to holiness in monotheistic religions like Christianity etc.

White Dunes Mui NeWhite Dunes Mui Ne | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Symbolism of white in Asia

Contrary to our beliefs, in China for example, white is the colour of wisdom and age.
Dirty or refracted white represents death and sorrow. Especially a combination of white and black is considered as bad luck, because it symbolises death.

That symbolism is the reason why in China traditional wedding dresses are mostly red. Young, modern women however, tend to choose a western style wedding dress in white. But their mothers and grandmothers insist on the traditional red dress. So they end up in changing during their wedding. The Asian "Lore of the Five Elements" is connecting the colour white with autumn and eastern direction.

White TigerWhite Tiger | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

More symbolism

The White Lamb. Looks so cute and innocent with it´s big eyes and curly, white fur. That´s probably the reason why some religions traditionally sacrifice them. Things too cute must be vanquished.

The White Dove is an old symbol for hope and peace. Perhaps dating back to Noah and his arch. He sent birds to watch out for land, and the white dove was the one that brought an olive twig as proof. I don't remember now, if the original version (Atra-Hasis) also included a white dove.

White PigeonWhite Pigeon | photo: (cc-by-sa) Jean van der Sluijs

Overview: White

  • White is the colour of innocence, virginity and properness
  • White light is an equal mix of light, composed of all wavelengths
  • White is an achromatic colour
  • White is the brightest colour, the total presence of light
  • Symbol for good luck in the West
  • The white egg, the white lotus and the white cowl of Jeebus are symbols of birth, rebirth, comeback and new hope
  • Zeus abducted Europa in form of a white bull
  • The white dove symbolises peace and hope, even if it dumps a load on you
  • The white lamb represents sacrifice
  • White animals were preferred as sacrificial gift to the ancient Greek gods
  • The colour white is a symbol for the "good", contrary to black
  • As colour for a wedding dress, white was quite popular for about 150 years
  • White is extravagant, distant and cool
  • White is the colour of origin (white cloth can be dyed, white paper can be coloured, white light can be refracted)
  • Snow and ice are cold and white
  • Avalanches are called the white death
  • White is the colour of wisdom and age

Whiter than white

For dozens of years now, they are always developing new recipes for various laundry detergents, and one presumably washes whiter than the last one.
That is of course absolute nonsense, since white itself is total and there can be nothing more than the maximum.

Whiter than WhiteWhiter than White | photo: (cc-by-nc-nd) Laurie Hulsey

Usually the Foxglove flower is pink, but this one is nice, innocent and white.
However, it´s not less deadly than it´s pink relative.

White Foxglove FlowerWhite Foxglove Flower | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox

Colourful World

Grey is the colour of reliability, plain and boring. But also the hidden person behind the scene. Grey is unobtrusive, elegant and can be combined with any other colour.
White is proper, innocent and clean. The white dress stands for innocence and virginity, the white suit for extravagance. White is achromatic, but a mix of all colours in the additive colour scheme.
Black is the colour of the hidden, the unknown, death and sorrow. But it is also powerful and solid, a colour to trust and rely on.
I dare to say that red is the most important colour in the history of mankind. Red is so deeply ingrained in our daily perception, I cannot imagine a world without the colour.
Purple has been the most sought-after colour of the ancient times, but the details are still foggy.
Brown is the colour of trustworthiness, like the fertile soil. It is also simple and uncomplicated. Warm and aromatic, like coffee or fresh brown bread. But also simplicity (negative) and dirty.
The colour rose is female, sensitive, tender and charming. But also young, soft and sometimes naive. On the other hand, there is pink, which is also female, but more aggressive, untamed and independent.