[blak-uh n-hwahyt, -wahyt]
See more synonyms for black-and-white on
  1. displaying only black and white tones; without color, as a picture or chart: a black-and-white photograph.
  2. partly black and partly white; made up of separate areas or design elements of black and white: black-and-white shoes.
  3. of, relating to, or constituting a two-valued system, as of logic or morality; absolute: To those who think in black-and-white terms, a person must be either entirely good or entirely bad.

Origin of black-and-white

First recorded in 1590–1600

black and white Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for black-and-white

Contemporary Examples of black-and-white

Historical Examples of black-and-white

  • There was black-and-white paint on his body; the stripes of the Koshare do not come off easily.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • He's head and shoulders above the ruck of black-and-white artists.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport

    Robert Neilson Stephens

  • One of the ladies, dressed in black-and-white check, was immensely stout.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • She had taken over some of his black-and-white work herself.

    Audrey Craven

    May Sinclair

  • The black-and-white hall was empty and everything was perfectly still.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for black-and-white


    1. a photograph, picture, sketch, etc, in black, white, and shades of grey rather than in colour
    2. (as modifier)black-and-white film
  1. the neutral tones of black, white, and intermediate shades of greyCompare colour (def. 2)
  2. in black and white
    1. in print or writing
    2. in extremeshe always saw things in black and white
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with black-and-white

black and white


A monochromatic picture, drawing, television image, computer monitor, or film, as opposed to one using many colors, as in Photos in black and white fade less than those taken with color film. [Late 1800s]


Also, black or white. Involving a very clear distinction, without any gradations. For example, He tended to view everything as a black and white issue—it was either right or wrong—whereas his partner always found gray areas. This usage is based on the association of black with evil and white with virtue, which dates back at least 2,000 years. [Early 1800s] Also see gray area.


in black and white. Written down or in print, and therefore official. For example, The terms of our agreement were spelled out in black and white, so there should be no question about it. This term alludes to black ink or print on white paper. Shakespeare used it in Much Ado about Nothing (5:1). [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.