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Apart from 'white', 白 bái can have idiomatic meanings:

In 白头 báitóu "white head (i.e. hair)" 白 still means 'white'

It refers to old age in 白头偕老 báitóu-xiélǎo 'a couple living together until old age'.

在中国人的婚礼上,最多的祝愿是: “祝新郎新娘白头偕老”。 Zài Zhōngguórén de hūnlǐ shàng, zuì duō de zhùyuàn shi: "zhù xīnláng xīnniáng báitóu-xiélǎo".
'The most commonly used congratulatory phrase at Chinese weddings is: “I hope the groom and the bride stay together for the rest of their lives”.'

'Blank'

This use is quite close to 'white'.


As in 白卷 báijuàn 'blank exam paper'

昨天汉语考试,因为没有好好复习,我交的几乎是白卷。 Zuótiān hànyǔ kǎoshì, yīnwèi méi yǒu hǎohǎo fùxí, wǒ jiāo de jīhū shi báijuàn.
'As I didn’t do my revision, I submitted an almost blank exam paper at yesterday’s Mandarin exam.'

Or, more figuratively as
脑子一片空白 Nǎozi yípiàn kòngbái. ‘The mind goes blank’
汉语口语考试的时候,大卫太紧张了,他忽然感到脑子一片空白,什么都说不出来了。 Hànyǔ kǒuyǔ kǎoshì de shíhou, Dàwèi tài jǐnzhāngle, tā hūràn gǎndào nǎozi yípiàn kòngbái, shénme dōu shuōbuchulai le.
‘At the Chinese oral exam, David was so nervous, that his mind all of a sudden simply went blank and could not say a word.’

'Start from scratch' as in 白手起家 báishǒu-qǐjiā

五十年前他来伦敦的时候手里只有五个英镑,白手起家,经过多年的奋斗,现在变成了一个大公司的老板。 Wǔshí nián qián tā lái Lúndūn de shíhou shǒu lǐ zhǐ yǒu wǔshí yīngbàng, báishǒu- qǐjiā, jīngguo duō nián de fèndòu, xiànzài biànchéngle yí ge dà gōngsī de lǎobǎn.
'Fifty years ago when he came to London he had only five pounds in his pocket (lit."hands"),but he started from scratch, and after years of struggle, he has now become the boss of a big company.'

真相大白 zhēnxiàng dàbái ‘The truth has come to light.’

经过十年的调查,那个案子才最终真相大白了。 ‘Jīngguo shínián de diàochá, nàge ànzi cái zuìzhōng zhēnxiàng dàbái le.’
‘After a decade of investigation, the truth of the case finally came to light.’

白璧无瑕 báibì-wúxiá ‘flawless white jade; man's flawless character’

那个艺术品,完美得如白璧无瑕!Nà ge yìshùpǐn, wánměi de rú báibì-wúxiá! (N.B. The second clause is literary Chinese.)
‘That piece of art is (as) perfect (as jade)!’

‘Waste' or 'to no effect’ as in 白费 báifèi, 白白浪费 báibái làngfèi and 白跑 báipǎo (all of which mean 'waste' in diferent contexts)

我用了一天的时间劝玛丽忘掉他的前男朋友,可是她一点儿也听不进去,让我白费了力气和心思。我一整天的时间也白白浪费了。Wǒ yòng le yì tiān de shíjiān quàn Mǎlì wàngdiào tā de qiánnánpéngyou, kěshì tā yìdiǎr yě tīngbujìnqu, ràng wo báifèile lìqi hé xīnsi. Wǒ yīzhěngtiān de shíjiān yě báibái làngfèile.
'I used a whole day trying to persuade Mary to forget her former boyfriend, but she did not listen at all, causing me to waste my efforts (lit. "strength and thought"). I wasted a whole day.'


我昨天去朋友的家,遇到了 “铁将军把门”,白跑了一趟。 Wǒ zuótiān qù péngyou de jiā, yùdàole "tiě jiāngjūn bǎ mén", báipǎo le yí tàng.
'Yesterday I went to a friend's house and the door was locked, I’ve wasted my time for nothing.'
This is a colloquial expression in which the door is literally padlocked by a general.

'Daydreaming' as in 白日做梦 'báirì zuò mèng'


她常常白日做梦,一会儿想自己成了明星;一会儿想自己嫁了一个百万富翁。 Tā chángcháng báirì zuò mèng, yīhuìr xiǎng zìjǐ chéng le míngxīng; yīhuìr xiǎng zìjǐ jiàle yí ge bǎiwán fùwēng.
'She is always daydreaming,at one moment wanting to become a star and at the next thinking of marrying a millionaire.'

白眼 báiyǎn ‘contemptuous look’

As in 白眼看人 báiyǎn kàn rén ‘look down on someone’:
他的爸爸很有钱,他自我感觉特别好,常常白眼看人。Tā de bàba hěn yǒu qián, tā zìwǒ gǎnjué tèbié hǎo chángcháng báiyǎn kàn rén.
‘His father is very rich, therefore he feels particularly good about himself, and always looks down on others.’

And 遭人白眼 zāo rén báiyǎn ‘be looked down on’
她生活在单亲的家里,没有钱买漂亮的衣服,有时会遭人白眼。Tā shēnghuó zái dānqīn de jiā li, méi yǒu qián mǎi piàoliang de yīfu, yǒu shí huī zāo rén báiyǎn.
‘She grew up in a single-parent family, had no money to buy nice clothes, and was sometimes looked down upon.’

白字 báizì ’wrong character’


As in 白字大王 báizì dàwàng ‘king of wrong characters’:
他是一个白字大王,看他写的文章,需要猜想才能看得懂。比如:昨天我见到了王大娘,他写成:昨天我见到了王大狼!Tā shi yí ge báizì dàwáng, kàn tā xiě de wénzhāng, xūyào cāixiǎng cái néng kàn de dǒng. Bǐrú: zuótiān wǒ jiàndàole Wáng dàniáng, tā xiě chéng: zuótiān wǒ jiàndàole Wáng dàláng!
‘He is a great one for using wrong characters, and to read his articles, you have to be rather imaginative to be able to understand. For example: for Yesterday I saw aunty (大娘) Wang, he wrote: Yesterday I saw big wolf (大狼) Wang!’

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