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Black is the darkest shade, the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light. It is an achromatic color, literally a shade without hue, like white (its opposite) and gray. It is often used symbolically or figuratively to represent darkness, while white represents light.
Black ink is the most common shade (though sometimes thought of as a colour) used for printing books, newspapers and documents, because it has the highest contrast with white paper and is the easiest to read. For the same reason, black text on a white screen is the most common format used on computer screens. In color printing it is used along with the subtractive primaries cyan, yellow, and magenta, in order to help produce the darkest shades. There is some debate about wether black is a colour or shade, though shade has been scientifically proven.
Black and white have often been used to describe opposites; particularly truth and ignorance, good and evil, the "Dark Ages" versus Age of Enlightenment. Since the Middle Ages black has been the symbolic color of solemnity and authority, and for this reason is still commonly worn by judges and magistrates.
Black was one of the first colors used by artists in neolithic cave paintings. In the 14th century, it began to be worn by royalty, the clergy, judges and government officials in much of Europe. It became the color worn by English romantic poets, businessmen and statesmen in the 19th century, and a high fashion color in the 20th century.
In the Roman Empire, it became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic. According to surveys in Europe and North America, it is the color most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, force, violence, evil, and elegance.
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