\ ˈblēch How to pronounce bleach (audio) \
bleached; bleaching; bleaches

Definition of bleach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to remove color or stains from
2a : to make whiter or lighter especially by physical or chemical removal of color bleach clothing the sun had bleached her hair
b : to remove, make dull, or sanitize as if by removing color bleaches colonialism of its genocidal legacy— H. A. Giroux

intransitive verb

1 : to grow white or lose color
2 of coral : to expel symbiotic zooxanthellae exposing a white skeleton



Definition of bleach (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or process of bleaching
2 : a preparation used in bleaching
3 : the degree of whiteness obtained by bleaching

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Other Words from bleach


bleachable \ ˈblē-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce bleachable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for bleach

Synonyms: Verb

blanch, blench, decolorize, dull, fade, pale, snow, wash out, whiten

Antonyms: Verb

darken, deepen, embrown

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Examples of bleach in a Sentence


bones bleached white by the sun She bleached her hair blonde.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

L'Oréal Paris notes, those with darker hair might need to bleach or lighten their hair first for the purple to show. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "How To Get Megan Rapinoe’s 2019 World Cup Winning Purple Hair," 8 July 2019 Studio staff members were bleaching cotton duck and knit fabrics on the asphalt in the sun, preparing a few yards at a time to send to the factories. Christina Binkley, The New Yorker, "Sterling Ruby’s Mixed Media," 2 Sep. 2019 Plus, oxygen bleach won’t bleach the color out of your clothing. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How To Get Leaf Stains Off Your Wood Deck," 24 Aug. 2019 Coral reefs have bleached and usually recovered throughout their evolutionary history. Michael Wilner,, "Trump administration throws cold water on climate change threat to Florida’s coral reefs," 10 Aug. 2019 That scene of him ordering Florian’s old room to be bleached was heartbreaking. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Everything you need to remember about GLOW before watching season 3," 8 Aug. 2019 Wicker baskets, bleached-wood lanterns and natural wood accessories give tablescapes and ottoman vignettes alike the perfect balance. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "Play up red, white and blue all summer long," 24 June 2019 This market segment is skeptical of versions of American history that have been neglectful or bleached of blemishes pertaining to this nation’s treatment of minorities throughout our history. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Econometer: Did Nike make the right move recalling Betsy Ross shoes?," 12 July 2019 Australia suffers droughts and reef-bleaching seas, but the right has just won an election there under a party whose leader addressed parliament holding a lump of coal like a holy relic. The Economist, "The global crisis in conservatism," 4 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Once the astronauts were wiped down by Hatleberg with a potent bleach solution, they were lifted into a helicopter and flown to the USS Hornet, where their quarantine mobile home awaited them along with President Richard Nixon. Washington Post, "Apollo 11 moon landing had thousands working behind scenes," 15 July 2019 They should be washed with soap and water, then soaked in a 10-percent bleach solution for 10 minutes. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Contagious house finch eye disease reported in Walnut Creek area," 17 June 2019 Another expressed concern about the effects of bleach on Noah’s skin, and some fans were just confused by the whole style move. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Noah Centineo Apparently Bleached His Facial Hair," 15 Sep. 2019 Start by mixing one cup of oxygen bleach in one gallon of warm water. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How To Get Leaf Stains Off Your Wood Deck," 24 Aug. 2019 Deputies also noticed Lynch’s driver seat had been wrapped in plastic and emitted a strong odor of bleach in the garage. Mitchell Byars, The Denver Post, "Suspect in Fourmile Canyon death charged with first-degree murder," 2 Aug. 2019 Throwing a capful of bleach into the latter will significantly cut down on the bugs that can hang on to plates and utensils washed haphazardly by headlamp. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, "Our Gear Guy's Foolproof Camp Kitchen Tips," 25 July 2019 For example, whites threw nails at the bottom of pools in Cincinnati, poured bleach and acid in pools with black bathers in St. Augustine, Florida, and beat them up in Philadelphia. Victoria W. Wolcott, The Conversation, "The forgotten history of segregated swimming pools and amusement parks," 9 July 2019 While unloading the acid, about 15 gallons of bleach were accidentally poured into the 300 gallons of acid already in the container, Wagner said. Rachel Berry,, "1 hospitalized after chemical reaction in Fairfield," 21 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bleach.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bleach


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1746, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bleach


Middle English blechen, from Old English blǣcean; akin to Old English blāc pale; probably akin to Latin flagrare to burn — more at black entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near bleach





bleached ginger

bleached rattler


Statistics for bleach

Last Updated

15 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for bleach

The first known use of bleach was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for bleach



English Language Learners Definition of bleach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to remove color or dirt and stains from (hair, clothing, etc.) especially through the effect of sunlight or by using chemicals : to make (something) whiter or lighter in color



English Language Learners Definition of bleach (Entry 2 of 2)

: a strong chemical that is used to make something clean or white


\ ˈblēch How to pronounce bleach (audio) \
bleached; bleaching

Kids Definition of bleach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make white by removing the color or stains from



Kids Definition of bleach (Entry 2 of 2)

: a chemical used for bleaching

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More from Merriam-Webster on bleach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bleach

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bleach

Spanish Central: Translation of bleach

Nglish: Translation of bleach for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bleach for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bleach

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