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black and white

1. Literally, lacking bright colors, as of a monochromatic image. In what decade did color movies start to replace black and white ones?
2. Of the utmost clarity; clearly defined or differentiated; without any room for confusion, ambiguity, or discrepancy. Love isn't always black and white, you know. You have to accept that there are many gray areas in relationships. Don't debate me about it. The rules are black and white, and you broke them.
See also: and, black, white

in black and white

In writing, especially an agreement, contract, or other formal document. It's there in black and white that employees caught taking office supplies will be fired immediately. Please send me an email summarizing this conversation, so I have it all in black and white should the issue come up in the future.
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*in black and white

Fig. [of an agreement, contract, or statement] official, in writing or printing. (*Typically: be ~; get something ~.) I have it in black and white that I'm entitled to three weeks of vacation each year.
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black and white

1. 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]
2. 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.
3. 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]
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in black and white

COMMON
1. If someone judges or shows a complex issue or situation in black and white, they judge or show it as if it is obvious what is morally right and wrong. Nowadays, people do not see these things purely in black and white. She is still a champion of oversimplification, seeing issues in black and white. Note: You can also talk about a black and white situation, issue or judgment. People think this is a very straightforward black and white issue and it just isn't. This case is not as black and white as the media have said. Note: These expressions are usually used to criticize people who judge or show complex subjects and situations in a very simple way.
2. If you say that something is in black and white, you mean that you have written proof of it. You know, we've seen it. It's written right here in black and white. We have a strict, clear rule in black and white, that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.
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black

mod. without cream or milk. (Said of coffee.) Black coffee, good and hot, please.

black and white

n. the police; a black and white police patrol car; any police car. Call the black and whites. We got trouble here.
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