[adjective lil-ee-hwahyt, -wahyt; noun lil-ee-hwahyt, -wahyt]


white as a lily: soft lily-white skin.
pure; untouched by corruption or imperfection; above reproach: He tries to pass himself off as some sort of lily-white saint, but he's not.
designating or pertaining to any faction, organization, or group opposing the inclusion of blacks, especially in political or social life.


a member of a lily-white organization, especially a member of a former faction of the Republican Party in the South opposed to the inclusion of blacks in the party or in political life in general.

Origin of lily-white

1275–1325; Middle English lylie-whyt

Synonyms for lily-white Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lily-white

Contemporary Examples of lily-white

Historical Examples of lily-white

  • And then, brother, the faces of the beaux are of such a lily-white hue!

    The Contrast

    Royall Tyler

  • Her face, that had been lily-white, was flushed from brow to neck.

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

  • Should the people be allowed to think that he was lily-white?

    Hail to the Chief

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • They went on swimming about after their own lily-white mother.

  • I have always told my friends that you were a chilling, lily-white flake of snow.

    Marie Tarnowska

    Annie Vivanti

British Dictionary definitions for lily-white



of a pure whitelily-white skin
informal pure; irreproachable
US informal
  1. discriminating against Black peoplea lily-white club
  2. racially segregated
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

Word Origin and History for lily-white

early 14c., from lily + white; from 1903 with reference to whites-only segregation; 1964 as "irreproachable."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper