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black and white

black (def 33).


[blak-uh n-hwahyt, -wahyt] /ˈblæk ənˈʰwaɪt, -ˈwaɪt/
displaying only black and white tones; without color, as a picture or chart:
a black-and-white photograph.
partly black and partly white; made up of separate areas or design elements of black and white:
black-and-white shoes.
of, pertaining 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.
1590-1600 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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
the neutral tones of black, white, and intermediate shades of grey Compare colour (sense 2)
in black and white
  1. in print or writing
  2. in extremes he 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
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Slang definitions & phrases for black and white

black and white

noun phrase
  1. A capsule of an amphetamine and a sedative, or of two amphetamines (1970s+ Narcotics)
  2. A police car: Hanger was patrolling Interstate 35 in his black-and-white (1960s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with 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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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