Definition of black and white in English:

black and white

adjective

  • 1(of a photograph, film, television programme, etc.) in black, white, shades of grey, and no other colour.

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

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

informalUS
  • A police car.

    ‘a couple of black and whites zipped up and cops jumped out’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

    in black and white
    • 1In writing or print.

      ‘she had abandoned all hope of getting her contract down in black and white’
      • ‘Of course, the charts were printed right there in black and white, and they were always dominated by stuff like this.’
      • ‘It's all there in black and white, in leaked European Union documents which are now published on the Internet.’
      • ‘Though this dependence was glossed over, it was there in black and white for anyone who chose to read the paper carefully enough.’
      • ‘It is there clearly in black and white - Nietzche states that a good social order demands hierarchy and slavery.’
      • ‘It is in black and white - the principal act is the Social Welfare Act.’
      • ‘On the other hand, unlike the latter, its independence was laid down in black and white.’
      • ‘There are no gray areas in a properly prepared contract; everything is spelled out in black and white.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After reading it in black and white, you'll find it nearly impossible, not to search the Net for some of these famous paintings.’
      • ‘There's no denying it if it's there in black and white.’
    • 2In terms of clearly defined opposing principles or issues.

      ‘children think in black and white, good and bad’
      • ‘They crave books which confirm mythical notions of a magnificent past, in which villains and heroes are clearly drawn in black and white.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their understanding is simplistic and they see rules in black and white terms.’
      • ‘I think we are living in a world where people want to see things in black and white terms.’
      • ‘Analysis of issues was unnecessary because the world was painted 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.’
      • ‘Depressed people, Rita says, see things 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.’