White is an achromatic color, a color without hue*. An incoming light to the human eye that stimulates all its three types of color sensitive cone cells in nearly equal amounts results in white. White is one of the most common colors in nature, the color of sunlight, snow, milk, chalk, limestone and other common minerals. In many cultures white represents or signifies purity, innocence, and light, and is the symbolic opposite of black, or darkness. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, and exactitude.
In ancient Egypt and ancient Rome, priestesses wore white as a symbol of purity, and Romans wore a white toga as a symbol of citizenship. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance a white unicorn symbolized chastity, and a white lamb sacrifice and purity; the widows of kings dressed in white rather than black as the color of mourning. It sometimes symbolizes royalty; it was the color of the French kings (black being the color of the queens) and of the monarchist movement after the French Revolution as well as of the movement called the White Russians (not to be confounded with Belarus, literally "White Russia") who fought the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War (1917–1922). Greek and Roman temples were faced with white marble, and beginning in the 18th century, with the advent of neoclassical architecture, white became the most common color of new churches, capitols and other government buildings, especially in the United States. It was also widely used in 20th century modern architecture as a symbol of modernity, simplicity and strength.
White is an important color for almost all world religions. The Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has worn white since 1566, as a symbol of purity and sacrifice. In Islam, and in the Shinto religion of Japan, it is worn by pilgrims; and by the Brahmins in India. In Western cultures and in Japan, white is the most common color for wedding dresses, symbolizing purity and virginity. In many Asian cultures, white is also the color of mourning.
The white color on television screens and computer monitors is created with the RGB color model by mixing red, green and blue light at equal intensities.
* Hue is one of the main properties (called color appearance parameters) of a color, defined technically, as "the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow" (the unique hues). Orange and violet (purple) are the other hues, for a total of six, as in the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. The other color appearance parameters are colorfulness, chroma, saturation, lightness, and brightness.
- Hue — another word for color
- Saturation (chroma) — the intensity or purity of a hue
- Lightness (value) — the relative degree of black or white mixed with a given hue
- Temperature — the perceived warmth or coolness of a color