English is not my first language, so I'm not sure what you commonly call one of these:


I'm trying to choose between blackboard, white blackboard, or maybe just 'slate'.

  • 21
    That's a terrible sin(x)!
    – user4727
    Jun 22, 2011 at 20:29
  • 2
    The cuerpo is even worse. Jun 22, 2011 at 20:53
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    What's wrong with whiteboard?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jun 22, 2011 at 21:07
  • I just ignored the existance of that word since I'm no English speaker.
    – deprecated
    Jun 22, 2011 at 21:43
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    @vemv: I am guessing that you speak a language such as French where "ignore" or its cognate means "not know". It has a different meaning in English: it means "intentionally avoid acknowledging". So "I ignored the existence of that word" to an English speaker means "I pretended that word didn't exist (but I knew it did really)" [Just telling you this to be helpful, not meaning to belittle you.]
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 23, 2011 at 16:38

7 Answers 7


That is quite simply a whiteboard.

Blackboard can be defined as:

A smooth, hard, dark-colored panel for writing on with chalk.

Whiteboard can be defined as:

A panel covered with white, glossy plastic for writing on with erasable markers.

  • 5
    There has also been a trend in recent decades to replace "blackboard" by "chalkboard". This does not affect whiteboards, however.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 22, 2011 at 16:55
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    @Jasper: Same here, hence "chalkboard". Jun 22, 2011 at 20:44
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    There are however black whiteboards for writing with neon-bright erasable markers.
    – crasic
    Jun 22, 2011 at 21:09
  • oh, green boards. I thought it was because of political correctness brought to an extreme.
    – Agos
    Jun 22, 2011 at 21:22
  • When whiteboards began to replace blackboards, I was still in school. The rumour was that they called it so because it was racist to have blackboards, but not whiteboards!! LOL
    – Nobody
    Jun 23, 2011 at 10:55

I most often hear these referred to as dry erase boards.

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  • 1
    This was the original term, so +1. "Whiteboard" has since become the shorthand, since dry erase markers aren't the only things that work on them, and some things actually work better for certain situations (for instance, Vis-a-Vis wet-erase markers don't rub off when someone brushes past the board)
    – KeithS
    Jun 22, 2011 at 17:41
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    Interestingly, Staples Online refers to the category as "whiteboards" but all the individual products are sold as "dry-erase boards". And the markers are only sold as "dry-erase markers". Jun 22, 2011 at 19:26
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    The markers are "dry-erase" to differentiate them from "wet-erase" markers, which are used on overhead transparencies and required a wet rag to erase. Wet-erase markers are also useful on dry-erase boards, for markings that you don't want to erase with the dry-erase parts. For example, for a status list, you could write the team members' names in wet erase and the status in dry erase. This makes it hard to erase the name when erasing the status. Jun 22, 2011 at 20:48
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    Tangential trick I learned in the army(!): you can draw on top of wet-erase lines with dry-erase markers and they will then dry-erase away.
    – Henrik N
    Jun 22, 2011 at 22:12
  • @Henrik N: I learned that at middle school, and again in high school, and again in university. My elementary uses chalkboard.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jun 23, 2011 at 3:51

That is, quite naturally, called whiteboard, Bierce does not have an entry for the word but it would probably be:

  • the writing board that always get written on with permanent marker
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    Indelible ink on a whiteboard? Now, that's unreasonable. If it always gets written on with such, it will soon cease to be white; and space in which to write will likewise become scarce indeed. Jun 22, 2011 at 16:44
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    @Mr. Disappointment, see details on Bierce's dictionary - dict.org/bin/Dict?Form=Dict3&Database=devils
    – Unreason
    Jun 22, 2011 at 16:46
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    @Mr. Disappointment: (at the risk of spoiling a joke by explaining it) that site is full of cynical or ironic pseudo-definitions.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 22, 2011 at 16:55
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    @Mr. Disappointment - Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary is worth reading under any circumstances, but @Unreason is simply referring to the way he defined things in terms of their unintended consequences, or in terms of the (wrong) ways they inevitably get used. Imagine Murphy's Law crossed with the OED, and you get the Devil's Dictionary. So Bierce probably would have defined "whiteboard" just as @Unreason did.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 22, 2011 at 16:59
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    Years ago I worked in a corporate MIS department; we got the news that we had a new CIO, a purported business genius with a shiny new MBA. He came in to describe his vision for our exciting future; of course, he ignored the erasable markers attached to the whiteboard, and instead wrote with Magic Markers he'd picked up in the office next door. His "vision" for our "future" was laughable; the company was failing and our division was closed a year later... but right up until the end we had to write around his bullet points. I lost a lot of respect for the significance of an MBA that day.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 22, 2011 at 17:09

I refer to it as simply a whiteboard.


Also in common use is the generic term "the board", since most rooms only have a single whiteboard or chalkboard so there is no need to disambiguate between them.

For instance: "Student, please go write the answer on the board."


"Blackboard," has a nice archaic ring to it. I started in elementary school with blackboards, then they turned green, and we still called them blackboards. Now they're white, but to me it will stay a blackboard no matter what color it is.

"White blackboard," I've never heard used, except by sarcastic teens mocking my age.

"Slate," would confuse Americans, and, I belive, is not techincally correct since a "slate" is an individual item that one writes on, like a tablet, not something that is big enough to nail to the wall and show the room; that would be a big chunk of rock indeed.

So, if you want to be accurate, "dry erase board." But accuracy is boring and ugly.

  • Nice contribution. And the humorous touches make it only better :)
    – deprecated
    Jun 22, 2011 at 20:28

The dry-erase boards are called simply "whiteboards" or I've heard "greaseboards."

  • 1
    Those were for actual grease. Well, "grease pencils", which are actually wax pencils, which are what children call "crayons", but the people using grease pencils are engaged in important, grown-up work, too busy to use "crayons". Jun 29, 2011 at 16:40

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