Definition of black and white in US English:

black and white

adjective

  • 1(of a photograph, movie, television program, or illustration) in black, white, shades of gray, and no other color.

    ‘old black-and-white movies’
    • ‘My class is taught to develop their own film and produce black-and-white photos.’
    • ‘Or marry this one with season one, and you have all the black-and-white episodes.’
    • ‘The black-and-white film was the 1943 Academy Award winner for best picture.’
    • ‘Here, the black-and-white video consisted of two sets of male hands signing parts of the text.’
    • ‘There are two versions, one in full colour and in an equally-effective black and white format.’
    • ‘The transfer for this black-and-white film is one of the most attractive I've seen for a film of this vintage.’
    • ‘Hanging proudly in the corner of a back street post office is a black-and-white photograph taken nearly 150 years ago.’
    • ‘The black-and-white illustrations are clearly reproduced.’
    • ‘Copies of old black-and-white pictures of the Dutch governor general are on display.’
    • ‘This made mural-size black-and-white prints hard to find and expensive for collectors.’
    • ‘He would take us to the movies and we loved the way they dressed in 1940s black-and-white films.’
    • ‘The result is like a black-and-white photo negative, where the light parts are dark and the dark parts are light.’
    • ‘Actors would briefly stop work on their latest film to accept the award and to have a small black-and-white photo taken.’
    • ‘I stared at the black-and-white photo showing a group of men, all with solemn faces.’
    • ‘Does red eye show up in black-and-white photographs?’
    • ‘For black-and-white photography the issue of tone and mood and matching mats is extremely important.’
    • ‘On Saturday, I bought two prints of beautiful black-and-white photographs.’
    • ‘It was painted from an old black-and-white photograph somebody had lent her: she added the colours herself.’
    • ‘The first photograph was a black-and-white wedding photo, slightly yellowed with age.’
    • ‘My expectations were tainted with scenes from the old black and white war flics.’
    monochrome, greyscale
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  • 2(of a situation or debate) involving clearly defined opposing principles or issues.

    ‘there is nothing black and white about these matters’
    • ‘But medical decisions are not black-and-white and cannot be reduced to a set of contractual contingencies.’
    • ‘Your question appears to raise an issue that is fairly black-and-white.’
    • ‘He says there are no black and white rules when it comes to terminating a drug offender from the program.’
    • ‘Or is he an unreliable witness on accounting issues that are far from black-and-white?’
    • ‘What he has to understand is that was back in his time when things were black and white.’
    • ‘That apple-pie world is black-and-white in both senses; it is comforting but limiting.’
    • ‘But look at the emissions figures and the black-and-white viewpoints start to grey.’
    • ‘I am no longer vegetarian because I realised that this argument is not so black and white as I thought.’
    • ‘Nothing in life is black and white, and things aren't often as clear cut as we would like.’
    • ‘I am not naive, I do not believe life to be as black and white as stated above.’
    • ‘A failure to divide the world into a stage for black-and-white moral conflict makes, he believes, for dull radio.’
    • ‘The only problem, of course, is that neither situation is a black-and-white issue.’
    • ‘A black-and-white outcome is unlikely for an issue that contains more than its share of gray.’
    • ‘So I still do retain some belief in truth, but not so much in the black and white terms it was taught to me as a child.’
    • ‘Is potential failure assessment a black-and-white issue or does it depend on who is asking the questions and when?’
    • ‘I had a perfectly unambiguous black-and-white statement saying it would be legal to operate if we had to.’
    • ‘According to Krustev, the idea of the unity and conflict of opposites leads to a black-and-white way of thinking.’
    • ‘She emerges from the meeting somewhat irritated that the world presented by the academic is so black and white.’
    • ‘His characters were never black-and-white and each had its own complexity.’
    • ‘It's also hard to forgive a moral code so juvenile and black-and-white it might have originated at a boy scout jamboree.’
    categorical, unequivocal, absolute, uncompromising, unconditional, unqualified, unambiguous, clear, clear-cut, positive, straightforward, definite, definitive
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noun

US
informal
  • A police car.

    • ‘After years of blues and browns on police cars, the traditional black-and-white is once again gaining popularity, and law enforcement agencies from coast to coast and across the Valley are making the switch.’
    • ‘I just got back from the class and noticed quite a few agencies have gone to black & whites.’
    • ‘Nothing says "Police" like a black & white.’
    • ‘Saw the Jefferson CSO (CO) Dodge Charger black and white with LEDS on a traffic stop today.’

Phrases

  • in black and white

    • 1In writing or in print, and regarded as more reliable, credible, or formal than by word of mouth.

      ‘getting her contract down in black and white’
      • ‘On the other hand, unlike the latter, its independence was laid down in black and white.’
      • ‘Though this dependence was glossed over, it was there in black and white for anyone who chose to read the paper carefully enough.’
      • ‘But the bill says in black and white that if you share so much as a single tune with your pals on the Internet-as millions do every day-you are a felon.’
      • ‘Of course, the charts were printed right there in black and white, and they were always dominated by stuff like this.’
      • ‘There are no gray areas in a properly prepared contract; everything is spelled out in black and white.’
      • ‘It is there clearly in black and white - Nietzche states that a good social order demands hierarchy and slavery.’
      • ‘There's no denying it if it's there in black and white.’
      • ‘It is in black and white - the principal act is the Social Welfare Act.’
      • ‘It's all there in black and white, in leaked European Union documents which are now published on the Internet.’
      • ‘After reading it in black and white, you'll find it nearly impossible, not to search the Net for some of these famous paintings.’
      in print, printed, written down, set down, on paper, committed to paper, recorded, on record, documented, clearly defined, explicitly defined, plainly defined
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    • 2In terms of clearly defined opposing principles or issues.

      ‘children think in black and white, good and bad’
      • ‘Their understanding is simplistic and they see rules in black and white terms.’
      • ‘Analysis of issues was unnecessary because the world was painted in black and white.’
      • ‘It's curious that those who talk about life being all about shades of grey suddenly see the world in black and white when it comes to corporate capitalism.’
      • ‘I think we are living in a world where people want to see things in black and white terms.’
      • ‘They crave books which confirm mythical notions of a magnificent past, in which villains and heroes are clearly drawn in black and white.’
      • ‘Once exquisitely sensitive to racial political correctness, she now sees the world in black and white.’
      • ‘You tend to see the world in black and white, right or wrong.’
      • ‘You cannot see everything in this world in black and white terms.’
      • ‘Doping in sport tends to be presented in black and white terms, but this case illustrated that it is not always so simple.’
      • ‘Depressed people, Rita says, see things in black and white.’
      in absolute terms, unequivocally, without shades of grey, categorically, uncompromisingly, unconditionally, unambiguously, clearly, positively, straightforwardly, definitely, definitively
      View synonyms

Pronunciation

black and white

/ˈˌblak ən ˈ(h)wīt/