白 means ‘white’ and is composed of an upright ‘dash’ on the top of the building block 日 (sun). I like to remember the character 白 by imagining that the sun(日) is so bright, the only colour I can see is white(白).

When learning colours in Chinese, one commonly asked question is about the difference between 白 and 白色. Literally, 白 means ‘white’ and 白色 is ‘white colour’. So in Chinese, the words for colours can be represented by one-character (e.g. 白) or two-character compound nouns (e.g. 白色). Here are a few examples:

白 (bái – white) or 白色 (báisè – white colour)
黑 (hēi – black) or 黑色 (hēisè – black colour)
紅 (hóng – red) or 紅色 (hóngsè – red colour)
黄 (huáng – yellow) or 黄色 (huángsè – yellow colour)
绿 (lǜ – green) or 绿色 (lǜsè – green colour)

Unlike English, two-characters compound nouns are used more often when describing colours in Chinese. For example:

white house = white coloured house = 白色的房子
black car = black coloured car = 黑色的車子
red skirt = red coloured skirt = 紅色的裙子

For more information on the particle “de” 的, you can check out this post.

Generally speaking, when we’re describing the colour of something, we tend to use “色” after the colour; however, when describing certain objects, this rule doesn’t have to apply. For example:

green tea (绿茶; lǜ chá)
black hair (黑頭髮; hēi tóu fǎ)
white horse (白馬; bái mǎ)
red pen (紅筆: hóng bǐ)

March 14th is White Day, which is celebrated across 日本(Japan), 南韓/南韩(South Korea), 中國/中国(China), and 台灣/台湾(Taiwan). Have you heard about it? Take a look here: find out more.

Source: Chineasy


Our phrase is 白馬, which combines the characters 白 (white) and 馬 (horse). The meaning of the combined phrase is (surprise, surprise) “white horse”.

白馬= 白 (White) + 馬 (Horse) = [literally] (White Horse)

The Chinese character 白 means “white”. In the oracle-bone inscriptions, the form depicts the brightness of sunlight as “white”. Some sources suggest that this character acquired its meaning from the colour of the ‘flesh’ inside an acorn.

白 as an adjective: white, snowy, blank, bright, plain, empty, frank, pure, honest
白 as an noun: wine glass, dialect, spoken part in opera, surname
白 as an verb: know, realise, understand, explain, show, report, accuse, charge, turn white
白 as an adverb: in vain, for no reason, only, just simply

The earliest form of 馬 depicts a combination of a horse head, big eye, hair, four legs, and a long tail, indicating a good running animal. The form is the same in the bronze and seal scripts, with emphasis on the horse’s hair and strong legs. In the clerical scripts, the four legs became 4 dots instead.

馬 as noun: horse, cavalry piece in Chinese chess; knight in Western chess; a Chinese surname

白馬 as noun: white horse

Pinyin: 白馬 (bai2ma3, báimǎ)
Stroke order:
白馬: Traditional and Kanji
白马: Simplified
Rarity: Common

白馬 is part of the phrase 白马非马 (bai2ma3fei1ma3, báimǎ fēi mǎ), which is a famous Chinese paradox. *Note that i’ve used simplified Chinese in the phrase* In English, the phrase means “when a white horse is not a horse”. One interpretation of the paradox is that because the Chinese character 非 is ambiguous, the phrase can mean “a white horse is not a type of horse” or “a white horse isn’t identical to ‘a horse’”. These two possible definitions make the phrase ambiguous and create a logical argument that supposes a “white horse” isn’t “a horse”. A slightly different interpretation suggests that the phrase represents the lack of distinction between abstract and concrete concepts in the Chinese language. The wiki page on this phrase is a very interesting read, so check it out here:

Source: Chineasy