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White vs. Caucasian: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
"White" generally refers to a racial group characterized by lighter skin, while "Caucasian" is a dated term often incorrectly synonymous with White, originally meaning people from the Caucasus region.
White vs. Caucasian

Key Differences

The term White is used to describe people with lighter skin tones, often of European origin, and is a broad classification used in census and demographic contexts. In contrast, Caucasian was originally a scientific classification for people from the Caucasus region, but it has been expanded and often misused to refer to all White people, disregarding accurate geographic ancestry.
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In many societies, White has become an identifier that encompasses a wide range of ethnicities beyond just European, extending to North African, Middle Eastern, and more. Conversely, Caucasian is a narrower term, rooted in 19th-century anthropology, that has become less accurate due to the diversity it attempts to represent, which extends beyond the Caucasus.
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White is a classification that is often used in legal and social contexts to denote race, with implications for identity and social standing. Caucasian, on the other hand, is considered an antiquated term with less relevance in contemporary racial discourse, as it is based on outdated racial theories.
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The use of White in modern racial categorization is generally accepted, though it is sometimes critiqued for being too broad or nonspecific. Caucasian is increasingly viewed as an imprecise term, as it groups together diverse populations that may not share the same cultural or genetic heritage.
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While White is a descriptor that can apply to a wide range of individuals across different continents and cultures, Caucasian is more restricted and less applicable in describing global racial diversity. The term White is more commonly used in everyday language, while Caucasian is fading in usage due to its imprecise nature.
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Comparison Chart

Origin

Broad term for lighter-skinned people
Originally referred to people from the Caucasus region
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Usage

Widely used in demographics and identity
Less used, often misapplied synonym for White
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Anthropological Accuracy

Broad and nonspecific
Based on outdated anthropological theories
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Geographic Accuracy

Can be imprecise, not tied to a specific region
Incorrectly used to describe all Whites, not just those from the Caucasus
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Contemporary Relevance

Common in modern racial discourse
Decreasing due to recognition of its inaccuracy
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White and Caucasian Definitions

White

White can describe something made from the milk of cows, sheep, or goats.
She preferred white cheese for her sandwich.
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Caucasian

Caucasian historically referred to people from the Caucasus region.
The ancient peoples of the region were considered Caucasian.
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White

White is used to describe the lightest category in a range of skin tones.
Sunscreen is particularly important for people with white skin.
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Caucasian

In anthropology, Caucasian was once used to describe a race of people with certain skull characteristics.
The Caucasian race was one of the three races classified by 19th-century anthropologists.
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White

The achromatic color of maximum lightness; the color of objects that reflect nearly all light of all visible wavelengths; the complement or antagonist of black, the other extreme of the neutral gray series. Although typically a response to maximum stimulation of the retina, the perception of white appears always to depend on contrast.
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Caucasian

Caucasian is a term used in some countries as a synonym for White, although this usage is outdated.
The form listed Caucasian alongside other racial categories.
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White

The albumen of an egg.
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Caucasian

Caucasian can refer to languages spoken in the Caucasus region.
He studied the diverse group of Caucasian languages.
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White

The white part of an eyeball.
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Caucasian

Caucasian sometimes is used in a demographic context, although its accuracy is debated.
Demographic data from the early 20th century often used Caucasian to mean White.
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White

A blank or unprinted area, as of an advertisement.
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Caucasian

Of or relating to a racial group having light-colored skin; white.
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White

Whites Pieces of laundry having a white or nearly white color.
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Caucasian

Of or being a human racial classification distinguished especially by very light to brown skin and straight to wavy or curly hair, and including peoples indigenous to Europe, northern Africa, western Asia, and parts of South Asia. No longer in scientific use.
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White

Whites White pants or a white outfit of a special nature
Tennis whites.
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Caucasian

Of or relating to the Caucasus region or its peoples, languages, or cultures.
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White

Whites The white dress uniform of the US Navy or Coast Guard.
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Caucasian

Of or relating to a group of three language families spoken in the region of the Caucasus mountains, including Chechen, Abkhaz, and the Kartvelian languages.
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White

A white wine.
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Caucasian

A person having light-colored skin; a white person.
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White

A white pigment.
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Caucasian

A member of the Caucasian racial classification. No longer in scientific use.
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White

A white breed, species, or variety of animal.
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Caucasian

A native or inhabitant of the Caucasus.
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White

Any of various butterflies of the subfamily Pierinae, characteristically having chiefly white wings often with black markings.
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Caucasian

The Caucasian language family.
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White

Also White A member of a racial group having light-colored skin, especially when of European origin and in some classifications also when of Middle Eastern or North African origin.
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Caucasian

Alternative case form of Caucasian
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White

Often whites Products of a white color, such as flour, salt, and sugar.
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Caucasian

Alternative case form of Caucasian
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White

The white or light-colored pieces, as in chess.
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Caucasian

Of or pertaining to the Caucasus, a mountainous region between the Black and Caspian seas.
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White

The player using these pieces.
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Caucasian

Of or pertaining to the white races of mankind, of whom the people about Mount Caucasus were formerly taken as the type.
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White

The outermost ring of an archery target.
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Caucasian

A native or inhabitant of the Caucasus, esp. a Circassian or Georgian.
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White

A hit in this ring.
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Caucasian

A member of any of the white races of mankind.
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White

Whites(Medicine) Leukorrhea.
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Caucasian

A member of the Caucasoid race
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White

White A member of a conservative or counterrevolutionary faction, especially one opposing the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war.
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Caucasian

A number of languages spoken in the Caucasus that have no known affiliations to languages spoken elsewhere
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White

Being of the color white; devoid of hue, as new snow.
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Caucasian

Of or relating to the geographical region of Caucasia;
Caucasian languages
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White

Weakly colored; almost colorless; pale
White wine.
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Caucasian

Of or belonging to a racial group having light skin coloration;
Voting patterns within the white population
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White

Pale gray; silvery and lustrous
White hair.
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White

Bloodless; blanched.
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White

Light or whitish in color or having light or whitish parts. Used with animal and plant names.
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White

Also White Of or belonging to a racial group of people having light-colored skin, especially when of European origin, and in some classifications also when of Middle Eastern or North African origin
Voting patterns within the white population.
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White

Habited in white
White nuns.
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White

Accompanied by or mantled with snow
A white Christmas.
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White

Incandescent
White flames.
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White

Intensely heated; impassioned
White with fury.
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White

White Of or relating to a conservative or counterrevolutionary faction, especially one opposing the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war.
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White

With milk added. Used of tea or coffee.
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White

(Archaic) Unsullied; pure.
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White

(Printing) To cover or make illegible with white coloring. Often used with out.
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White

Bright and colourless; reflecting equal quantities of all frequencies of visible light.
Write in black ink on white paper.
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White

(sometimes capitalized) Of or relating to Caucasians, people of European descent with light-coloured skin.
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White

Designated for use by Caucasians.
White drinking fountain
White hospital
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White

Relatively light or pale in colour.
White wine
White grapes
White birch
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White

Pale or pallid, as from fear, illness, etc.
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White

Lacking coloration (tan) from ultraviolet light; not tanned.
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White

Affected by leucism.
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White

(of coffee or tea) Containing cream, milk, or creamer.
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White

The standard denomination of the playing pieces of a board game deemed to belong to the white set, no matter what the actual colour.
The white pieces in this set are in fact made of light green glass.
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White

Pertaining to an ecclesiastical order whose adherents dress in white habits; Cistercian.
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White

Honourable, fair; decent.
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White

Grey, as from old age; having silvery hair; hoary.
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White

(archaic) Characterized by freedom from that which disturbs, and the like; fortunate; happy; favourable.
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White

(obsolete) Regarded with especial favour; favourite; darling.
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White

(politics) Pertaining to constitutional or anti-revolutionary political parties or movements.
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White

(of tea) Made from immature leaves and shoots.
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White

(typography) Not containing characters; see white space.
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White

(typography) Said of a symbol or character outline, not solid, not filled with color. Compare said of a character or symbol filled with color.
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White

Characterised by the presence of snow.
A white Christmas
A white Easter
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White

(of a set of armor) Alwhite, pertaining to white armor.
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White

The color/colour of snow or milk; the colour of light containing equal amounts of all visible wavelengths.
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White

A person of European descent with light-coloured skin.
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White

Any butterfly of the subfamily Pierinae in the family Pieridae.
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White

White wine.
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White

White coffee
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White

(countable) Any object or substance that is of the color white.
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White

The albumen of bird eggs (egg white).
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White

(anatomy) The sclera, white of the eye.
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White

The cue ball in cue games.
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White

Cocaine
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White

The snow- or ice-covered "green" in snow golf.
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White

A white pigment.
Venice white
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White

A white bean
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White

(archery) The central part of the butt, which was formerly painted white; the centre of a mark at which a missile is shot.
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White

The enclosed part of a letter of the alphabet, especially when handwritten.
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White

A feather, from the wing of the cock ostrich, that is of the palest possible shade.
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White

(transitive) To make white; to whiten; to bleach.
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White

Reflecting to the eye all the rays of the spectrum combined; not tinted with any of the proper colors or their mixtures; having the color of pure snow; snowy; - the opposite of black or dark; as, white paper; a white skin.
White as the whitest lily on a stream.
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White

Destitute of color, as in the cheeks, or of the tinge of blood color; pale; pallid; as, white with fear.
Or whispering with white lips, "The foe!They come! they come!"
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White

Having the color of purity; free from spot or blemish, or from guilt or pollution; innocent; pure.
White as thy fame, and as thy honor clear.
No whiter page than Addison's remains.
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White

Gray, as from age; having silvery hair; hoary.
Your high engendered battles 'gainst a headSo old and white as this.
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White

Characterized by freedom from that which disturbs, and the like; fortunate; happy; favorable.
On the whole, however, the dominie reckoned this as one of the white days of his life.
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White

Regarded with especial favor; favorite; darling.
Come forth, my white spouse.
I am his white boy, and will not be gullet.
Driving their cattle continually with them, and feeding only upon their milk and white meats.
A pistol charged with white powder.
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White

Something having the color of snow; something white, or nearly so; as, the white of the eye.
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White

Specifically, the central part of the butt in archery, which was formerly painted white; the center of a mark at which a missile is shot.
'T was I won the wager, though you hit the white.
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White

A person with a white skin; a member of the white, or Caucasian, races of men.
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White

A white pigment; as, Venice white.
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White

Any one of numerous species of butterflies belonging to Pieris, and allied genera in which the color is usually white. See Cabbage butterfly, under Cabbage.
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White

To make white; to whiten; to whitewash; to bleach.
Whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of . . . uncleanness.
So as no fuller on earth can white them.
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White

A member of the Caucasoid race
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White

The quality or state of the achromatic color of greatest lightness (bearing the least resemblance to black)
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White

Australian writer (1912-1990)
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White

United States political journalist (1915-1986)
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White

United States architect (1853-1906)
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White

United States writer noted for his humorous essays (1899-1985)
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White

United States educator who in 1865 (with Ezra Cornell) founded Cornell University and served as its first president (1832-1918)
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White

A tributary of the Mississippi River that flows southeastward through northern Arkansas and southern Missouri
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White

(board games) the lighter pieces
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White

(usually in the plural) trousers
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White

Turn white;
This detergent will whiten your laundry
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White

Being of the achromatic color of maximum lightness; having little or no hue owing to reflection of almost all incident light;
As white as fresh snow
A bride's white dress
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White

Of or belonging to a racial group having light skin coloration;
Voting patterns within the white population
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White

Free from moral blemish or impurity; unsullied;
In shining white armor
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White

Marked by the presence of snow;
A white Christmas
The white hills of a northern winter
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White

Restricted to whites only;
Under segregation there were even white restrooms and white drinking fountains
A lily-white movement which would expel Negroes from the organization
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White

Glowing white with heat;
White flames
A white-hot center of the fire
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White

Benevolent; without malicious intent;
White magic
A white lie
That's white of you
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White

Of a surface; not written or printed on;
Blank pages
Fill in the blank spaces
A clean page
Wide white margins
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White

(of coffee) having cream or milk added
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White

Dressed (or especially habited) in white;
White nuns
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White

(of hair) having lost its color;
The white hairs of old age
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White

Ash-colored or anemic looking from illness or emotion;
A face turned ashen
The invalid's blanched cheeks
Tried to speak with bloodless lips
A face livid with shock
Lips...livid with the hue of death
Lips white with terror
A face white with rage
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White

Of summer nights in northern latitudes where the sun barely sets;
White nights
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White

White refers to a racial category characterized by lighter skin.
The census form included White as an option for race.
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White

In color terminology, white is the presence of all colors of light, resulting in a color without hue.
The walls were painted white to create a sense of space.
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White

White can refer to a group of people with European ancestry.
The majority of the town's population was White.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is "White" a racial classification?

Yes, "White" is used to classify people with lighter skin tones, especially of European descent.
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Are "White" and "Caucasian" interchangeable?

Not always, as "Caucasian" refers specifically to people from the Caucasus region but is often used to describe white people in general.
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Can "Caucasian" be used for all White people?

It's commonly misused to mean White, but this is not accurate.
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Is "White" the same as "Caucasian"?

No, White is a broad racial category, while Caucasian originally referred to a specific region and is now an outdated term.
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Is it appropriate to use "White" to describe ethnicity?

It is commonly used, but individuals may prefer to be identified by their specific nationality or ethnicity.
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Should "Caucasian" be used in academic research?

Its use is declining in favor of more precise ethnic or racial terms.
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Can "Caucasian" include people from North Africa or West Asia?

In some classifications, yes, "Caucasian" has been historically used to include some North African and West Asian populations.
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Is the term "Caucasian" considered outdated?

Some anthropologists and sociologists consider "Caucasian" outdated and imprecise for racial categorization.
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Is "Caucasian" scientifically accurate?

The term is based on outdated racial theories and is not considered scientifically accurate for describing ethnicity.
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Nov 16, 2023

Can "Caucasian" be used for official documents?

It is still used in some official documents, but there is a shift towards more specific ethnic identifiers.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Do "White" and "Caucasian" carry cultural implications?

Yes, both terms can carry cultural implications and assumptions beyond physical characteristics.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Are "White" and "Caucasian" solely based on skin color?

While skin color is a factor, these terms can also imply broader ethnic and geographical backgrounds.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Does "White" have the same meaning globally?

The concept of being "White" varies in different societies and may include different groups depending on the context.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Can "Caucasian" be considered offensive?

Some people may find it offensive or inaccurate due to its historical implications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

How do "White" and "Caucasian" relate to privilege?

In many societies, these classifications have been associated with systemic privileges.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

How should one refer to people of European descent?

It's most accurate to refer to people by their specific nationality or ethnic group if known.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Is "Caucasian" a term used in biology?

No, biologists typically use more specific terms related to genetics and ancestry.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Are there legal definitions for "White" and "Caucasian"?

Legal definitions, if they exist, vary by country and context and are often subject to debate.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

Is "White" a census category?

Yes, "White" is often a category in censuses for racial self-identification.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 16, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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