Last updated at 14:52 GMT, Monday, 20 February 2012

Express English: The colour white

Every week we ask you a different question. Hear what people in London say, then join the conversation!

What do you associate with the colour white?

Join the conversation. What do you associate with the colour white? Use the form below to let us know.

The Express English team

This is what some people in London told us:

People tend to associate the colour white with peace and studying.

One man said that white makes him think of paper and another thought about waving the white flag when he had a lot of homework to do. But in the end he decided to roll up his sleeves and do the work.

Did you know?


Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled in the 16th century, is famously pictured in a pristine white gown, conveying an image of the 'Virgin Queen'. The colour was a symbol of purity and virtue.

Language tip

'White elephant' is an expression people use when they refer to something large that is a nuisance or difficult to keep.

Cultural tip

The colour white can symbolise death in China. In funerals it's traditional to display white paper flowers.

End of Section

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What do you associate with the colour white?

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    • 1. At 3:23pm on 20 Feb 2012, Maryna wrote:

      White colour is colour of snow, color of infinity, large, open space. It is always relaxing colour, it can't associate with aggressive and rude. White is colour of bridge, colour of wedding. I like to wear white every day, also it's not practice but very nice colour. I can also add that in all the times white is associated with aristhocraty.

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    • 2. At 3:45pm on 20 Feb 2012, luisabagagiolo wrote:

      For me white is the symbol of "new" things: ideas, projects, the beginning of a new period of life...

      luisa bagagiolo

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    • 3. At 4:18pm on 20 Feb 2012, Trinh Thanh Trung wrote:

      I associate the colour white with the paper or the wedding dress :D

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    • 4. At 4:52pm on 20 Feb 2012, shymaa166 wrote:

      What should be said that I don't like the colour white when it comes to choosing my clothes as it makes my complexion looks terribly pale and unhealthy.But,traditionally the coulour white symblolises peace,purity,virginity,kindness and the like.For me,I always associate it with the brightness of the wedding dress :)

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    • 5. At 5:16pm on 20 Feb 2012, Kazimir wrote:

      I tend to associate the colour white with weddings and innocence. Also the colour white reminds me a hospital because in my country almost all hospitals have white interiors and our doctors and surgeons wear white in colour clothes.

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    • 6. At 6:12pm on 20 Feb 2012, TungNguyen wrote:

      In my country, you can see colour white in pupils' uniform from primary school to high school. It's also appeared in the traditional costume of my nation, that's is Vietnamese dress.So colour white symbolise purity, pristine and innocent i think. Beside that,i make me think about the doctor who take care of the patient so white color is representative for the belief and somethings like that!

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    • 7. At 7:05pm on 20 Feb 2012, Clara Pinto wrote:

      The colour white makes come to my mind happy bunny babies.The colour white also gives me a sensation of cleaning.
      (Note: This is my first comment. Sorry for the errors)

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    • 8. At 7:05pm on 20 Feb 2012, sonu wrote:

      I like white colour. In India white colour means pious. Indian flag has three colour. On the top, saffron which means courage, sacrifice. In middle, white colour which means purity, truth and at the bottom, green colour which means faith and fertility.

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    • 9. At 7:29pm on 20 Feb 2012, shyammohamed wrote:

      I 'd like to thank all efforts in this site I'm really get agreat penefit in learning english here , and i need to know the meaning of (pristine),(conveying).

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    • 10. At 8:32pm on 20 Feb 2012, Emilia wrote:

      This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

    • 11. At 8:37pm on 20 Feb 2012, Emilia wrote:

      I honestly don't like this colour, I prefer smart colours in particular red. For me white symbolises summer in south Italy because white is the typical colour of the houses there. A perfect harmony with the blue of the sea and the sky.

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    • 12. At 9:26pm on 20 Feb 2012, sulu wrote:

      An absence of life, an absence of shape and form.

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    • 13. At 9:46pm on 20 Feb 2012, Lorenzo wrote:

      I associate the colour white with my white shirts... On the one hand they can be worn with ties of different colours (and it's good for timekeeping!), but on the other hand I can stain them easier (and it's not good for dress code!).

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    • 14. At 9:57pm on 20 Feb 2012, ameliesend wrote:

      I'm looking out and .. oh yes white like the snow; a white montle of snow that is covering everything.

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    • 15. At 11:26pm on 20 Feb 2012, Neuza Navarro wrote:

      Well, the color white is one of the most my favorite colour. I associate it with a good frame of mind to do what is necessary during our lives such as: to celebrate the hope of new time, to spread good energy and to show respect when someone passes away.

      In both occasions, we need to start again. The colour white means it: A new start, a new phase.

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    • 16. At 01:20am on 21 Feb 2012, Juan wrote:

      For me white colour means tranquility and peace. With this colour you can reflect about your acts, one colour to meditate

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    • 17. At 01:56am on 21 Feb 2012, Fangfang Zhong wrote:

      white is innocent and it is suitable any other colours!

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    • 18. At 07:04am on 21 Feb 2012, moonysun wrote:


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    • 19. At 09:46am on 21 Feb 2012, sabo wrote:

      While is a colour of freshness and purity. It has no colour, so I feel everything can be started form it.
      A bride wear a special white costume in a wedding ceremony in my country, that means she will adapt to her husband's home. In the past, after a man and a women got married, the new wife had to learn rules at his home, for example, how to cook, how to clean the house, or how to communicate with other family members and neighbors. It was sometimes needed for her to revise values, whether she liked it or not. So, a bride was expected to be colourless in order to adapt to new rules.
      Recently, more husband and wife live by themselves, away from their parents, however, a custom of wearing a while costume in the ceremony still exists.

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    • 20. At 12:39pm on 21 Feb 2012, Vera_Kuzub wrote:

      I associate something new with the colour white. You can leave all behind and begin new from white list.

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    • 21. At 1:34pm on 21 Feb 2012, Skape wrote:

      white is the color of peace and relax.

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    • 22. At 1:49pm on 21 Feb 2012, kezia82 wrote:

      I associate it with light, peace and purity.

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    • 23. At 2:16pm on 21 Feb 2012, penelope wrote:

      The white blouse of doctors, nurses in hospital. It associated with peace! :D

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    • 24. At 2:18pm on 21 Feb 2012, leanhthong wrote:

      people at eastern think white colour is nothing, emty, badthing. we usually see white colour in funeral, people don't like this colour.
      other side, white colour mean pure thing, time to begin, so the training minister decide the white uniform for all student from primary to high school in my coutry.
      My name Le from Vietnam.

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    • 25. At 3:29pm on 21 Feb 2012, shymaa166 wrote:

      To shyammohamed ,the word "pristine" is used in formal situations to refer to sth new and in a very good condition.
      "conveying" is to express a feeling ,thought or idea that is understood by people.

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    • 26. At 5:24pm on 21 Feb 2012, Samee wrote:

      In Bangladesh when we bury we wear them white cloths white cloths

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    • 27. At 6:06pm on 21 Feb 2012, Badr wrote:

      I associate the color white with the Fluorescent lamp, that we meet everywhere, especially in offices and shops; personally I prefer the Incandescent light.

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    • 28. At 7:05pm on 21 Feb 2012, Sofia wrote:

      White is traditionally associated with innocence and purity, that is why brides usually wear white dresses. But white lillies mean "death" to most people in our country. Personally I prefer other colours in clothes, but adore white roses.

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    • 29. At 8:49pm on 21 Feb 2012, Din Islam wrote:

      The colour white to me is an emblem of purity. Its a symbol of generosity, its a sign of largess. Moreover, its sign of death to me as we always buried the dead people with white cloth. Its a symbol of pristine. The colour white express ease with no intricate things. Some people distinguish between black and white but I hate that cause sometime they turn that thing to more serious issue. More precisely I wanna say that we should not discriminate between white people and black people. We are human being, thats all. The colour is a matter of external appearance but internally we all are the same. We all have to die once and no one will survive. So why our arrogance let us to feel us offended?

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    • 30. At 11:30pm on 21 Feb 2012, Pedro Antonio wrote:

      I associate it with somthing like emptinees, absens... I don´t feel well.

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    • 31. At 01:51am on 22 Feb 2012, oliver wrote:

      I set a goal to win a proffessional certificate whereas I'm quite buzy with my fulltime job, and a 3-year- daughter. So the goal is really like a white elephant for me.


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    • 32. At 02:04am on 22 Feb 2012, belcooo wrote:

      In Vietnam, white color is the color of traditional suits which pupils must wear to go to school. In early morning, people can see many female pupils wear the 'Ao Dai', which made from white silk. So, white color remember some of Vietnamnese about childhood, friendship, school. That is wonderful.

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    • 33. At 03:02am on 22 Feb 2012, Kate Wu wrote:

      To me, the color white is the contrary to black. While we can easily mix up any color then end up with the color black, there is no way of painting to make a blank white paper to be white again. It's a color representing purity as well as originality, which is why Queen Elizabeth I chose it to symbolize the image of virgin.

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    • 34. At 04:01am on 22 Feb 2012, linhvancong wrote:

      In my thought, white colour symbolizes peace, largeness, and pureness. I always feel relaxed when I look at a white wall or a white copy paper, they make my mind empty, out of papers. In my country, the white colour is always appeared at funerals. It's traditional, they want the spirit to rest in peace. Recent day, white colour is also be appeared in wedding (traditional wedding colour is red). May be people think white colour is a colour of virginity and infinity.
      By the way, my name's Linh, from Vietnam. Glad to meet you all.

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    • 35. At 06:47am on 22 Feb 2012, salih wrote:

      I assosiate white color with purity and beauty.

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    • 36. At 12:31pm on 22 Feb 2012, svetlana wrote:

      Snow! It`s all around me. Winter, mountain, milk, weddings, babies, cotton .... All this things. I don`t think it is color of nothing or emptiness. If you thought of piece of paper it could be a new start, beginning of something great..... There are many associations. Positive, of course. Think positively! :)

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    • 37. At 2:13pm on 22 Feb 2012, Mao wrote:

      The colour white let me remeber `SNOW`.
      We have a heavy snow in my country, but I think there are a lot of people in the world who haven't even seen it.

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    • 38. At 4:34pm on 22 Feb 2012, keti wrote:

      White is my favourite colour. Now I am trying to find advantages of white compared to other colours, but the only thing that comes to my mind is that it's a noble colour. White is a pretty cold colour, maybe, even a frosty colour. It's associated with snow, ice, and endless untouched snow expanse. That's why I call it a colour of loneliness. You feel lonely because there is no one who has left tracks on the snow. When I was a child, the walls of hospitals used to be painted  white. A hospital is always painful, with bitter pills or injections. I used to feel uncomfortable there. White is the colour of failure. In the early years people  raised a white flag, when they wanted to show that they were going to capitulate. Despite these thoughts, white is my favourite colour. Apparently, the main reason is that white is a symbol of purity. Most of all I appreciate people who are free from tricks, treason and hypocrisy.

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    • 39. At 10:06pm on 22 Feb 2012, anhphu44 wrote:

      White to me is simple, clean. I use a lot of my household items in white. My daugter thinks white is boring but I just love it.

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    • 40. At 06:28am on 23 Feb 2012, seekutnica wrote:

      I associate white with scandinavians homes: rooms full of white walls and simple furniture. White is pure and calm. This colour let expose the others. I love white, it is full of sun.

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    • 41. At 10:26am on 23 Feb 2012, rasel wrote:

      The color white means pristine, virginity, perfect and larger beyond your imagination. White color symbolize the test cricket wearing players in the ground to telecast by any tv channel is so much boring to me when I feel this game gets the result within five days. In Asia particularly in India I feel very upset when I see a woman with dressing white dress forever because of her husband passed away. I feel very innocence to see a baby with virginity. White also symbolize the simple and standard choice with wearing white shirt for office. The students wearing white shirt means they are going ahead to achieve knowledge for rolling up the beauty for mankind.

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    • 42. At 2:11pm on 23 Feb 2012, carloscarollo wrote:

      For me the white color means peace. I love this color and buy several clothes of this color.

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    • 43. At 3:07pm on 23 Feb 2012, Vinikovic wrote:

      The colour white remember me the sand of Barra da Tijuca Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

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    • 44. At 4:19pm on 23 Feb 2012, Kandan wrote:


      White is my favourite colour in dress.Commonly White colour sign for Peace and love. Usually White color have different meaning in each country. In Asia, People will wear the white color dress for gents and ladies if any special day in their family or in a relative family.In Eurpoe,White color means snow Ice. during winter season people would enjoy the snow day specially during Christmas days. In Marriage, Bride We'll wear White color dresses finally would spread the peace to the world in wearing white color dresses :)

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    • 45. At 4:23pm on 23 Feb 2012, txnghia wrote:

      While color is the backlight color of LCD screen displays used in TVs, phones, and other electronic devices. White fluorescence tubes or LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) are used to emit backlight in those devices.

      The white sun light makes rainbow. It seems the white contains no color but in fact it contains all colors.

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    • 46. At 5:53pm on 23 Feb 2012, ao32 wrote:

      The white colour remember me to the Andalucia's town in Spain.

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    • 47. At 03:16am on 24 Feb 2012, lii1618 wrote:

      In my opinion , because I'm Taiwanese, in my culture, white is associated with sadness, death, or unlucky things. However, for the teenagers, this concept has become much wake.

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    • 48. At 08:10am on 24 Feb 2012, Sasha wrote:

      I like colorful also the white is my favorite color.
      This color make me comfortable、peace and relax, it seems like an angel's purity.

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    • 49. At 12:57pm on 24 Feb 2012, rut wrote:

      There are a lot of meanings for white colour: peace, purity, light, ghosts...There is also a latin expression: "in albis" when your mind can't think or you get blocked for a moment. In any case, I'd like to point up the colour of our galaxy: it's white. That's why we call it: Via Lactea. It's fantastic!

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    • 50. At 7:23pm on 24 Feb 2012, tahira wrote:

      I associate with the colour white purity, in fact the colour white isn t a real coulour just like black...but white is a colour where you feel comfortable, safe and its sth that stands for spirituallity...

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    • 51. At 02:35am on 25 Feb 2012, castleontheriver wrote:

      White is a color that I associate with a state of inner peace. When I try to relax my mind, I imagine usually sparkles crossing the dark. In addition, I use white dresses for the occasion of special events, meetings and parties of family or friends, school events. Clear there are many wonderful things of nature are white: swans, pigeons, sea foam, snow, clouds, stars, etc.

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    • 52. At 05:51am on 25 Feb 2012, Saprina wrote:

      I associate white with pure milk which is very good for health.

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    • 53. At 06:09am on 25 Feb 2012, Anastasia wrote:

      I associate white color with winter and snow as I live in Russian Far East and 4 month a year everything around me is covered with snow.

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    • 54. At 09:40am on 25 Feb 2012, alex wrote:

      As for me white color associated with my favorite season - winter, right winter with a lot of snow everywhere, slowly falling big flocks of snow,medium frost.When I look through window this picture I become incredibly happy and I want to share my joy with everyone!)
      As for features white color symbolize for me purity, honesty and peace, but may be I like this color mainly for peace. Also white is color of milk, which I like very much!))

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    • 55. At 10:25am on 25 Feb 2012, stray beer wrote:

      as the chinese old saying goes, white represents peace, purity,virginity. but this tiltle stikes me at the first time is that someone is dead for in my country when someone dies, his or her offsprings should be in white chothes lasting for 49 days. So, I hate colour white.

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    • 56. At 2:05pm on 25 Feb 2012, Luzmila Cotrado Velarde wrote:

      The white color make me tranquility

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    • 57. At 00:26am on 26 Feb 2012, white wrote:

      for me white is lover of black....

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    • 58. At 00:46am on 26 Feb 2012, Eren wrote:

      In my opinnion, White color is the expresion of lean, clean and technology.

      White color is the lean as you can find something easly what you ever want and understand very quickly what ever you want to learn. It is the symbol of realism as well. You can see it easliy and it is far away from the doubt.

      It is also meaning of the clean. When you drop little bit ink on the white paper. You are able to see it obviously easily. Because it is there !

      Of course It refers technology, Edison has found the electricity and ligthened our modern association. It was the important miles stone for the modernisation and provide to develop cloud computing.

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    • 59. At 12:04pm on 26 Feb 2012, sunny wrote:

      white colour is the most simple colour in all of the is also special colour because it can combine easily with colours.example white and pink, white and green, white and red....white colour is so clean so it is used widely in hospitals, restaurants, partys, wedding...but sometimes I don't like white horror film the ghosts often wears white coach and I am scared of ghost very much.

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    • 60. At 5:17pm on 26 Feb 2012, Gigliola wrote:

      For me,colour white is associated with my mother. She loved white rosses, hers favorite flowers. Sometimes, when I think of her, I pictured her in a white, nice blouse; she was so beautiful and glowing. I miss her...Many years ago I gave a white rose to my best friend's mother because was my mother birthday and I want to feel closer to her again...White is sorrow and consolation.

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    • 61. At 11:54am on 27 Feb 2012, misswise wrote:

      For me the colour white refer to purity, peace, freedom and large space. But I think that the significant of this color differ from country to country. I'm a moroccan and in my culture white is used sadness as in hapiness.

      For example, in my place, when a woman lose her husband and become widow she wears white cloths for 4 months. During this periode she can't get married again. And people can know if a woman is recently widow from her cloth, sometimes when say a widow woman u give her a priority and more respect.

      Muslim piligrims to Mekkah wear white cloth as well. In this religious journey they pray , do good deeds and ask allah forgiveness. Piligrimage is a chance of forgiveness and getting free from sins. In this case, color white is related to a new birth.

      In the other side, a bride wear white dress . The groom can also wear traditional cloths as well. In this situation white color refer to hapiness a the foundation of new life .

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    • 62. At 01:27am on 28 Feb 2012, nugraha wrote:

      well..., the color white , i think is many interpretation depend on see side at, in my country the colour white is part of the flag , where it have meaning holy , so that why some of people in our country if they go to mosques prefer use wearing white shirt.

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    • 63. At 06:41am on 28 Feb 2012, rosemary196 wrote:

      White color reminds me about a white wedding dress, it is not unreasonable saying that when a woman wear her wedding dresses it is time for her to become the most beautiful girl, the center of the party . I have a feeling that white color seems a yoral background that's the reason why every bride look like special beauty in her own way.

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    • 64. At 07:31am on 28 Feb 2012, anna wrote:

      I think white color has some common meanings regardless of the country and culture. It is symbol of purity, virginity. That`s why the wedding dress is white. That symbolizes also the purity of heart, sympathy and help. So doctors wear white coats. With white I associate white sheet of paper that you, full of ideas and hopes, can cover with writing or drawings as you wish. So it symbolizes the beginning of something.

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    • 65. At 07:51am on 29 Feb 2012, Virag75 wrote:

      On one hand I don't like white colour, because it is the colour of the hospitals and doctors and nurses also wear white coats. And I am afraid of all of doctors. I don't like the fashion that people paint the walls of their home white instead of decorating wonderful colourful wall-papers. But on the other hand I like white colour very much. Because I love snow and the white blooming spring trees and white wedding dresses. So white can express coldness and beauty at the same time.

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