Black is the darkest color , the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light . It is an achromatic color , literally a color 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 color 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.
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 .