\ ˈblēch \
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 \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for bleach

Synonyms: Verb

blanch, blench, decolorize, dull, fade, pale, 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

Back home, Ahn is a fixture at Seoul Fashion Week and easy to spot, thanks to the signature bleached shag that, for many seasons, had been a cool sleet gray. Monica Kim, Vogue, "24 Hours With Ahreum Ahn, the First It Girl From Seoul," 15 June 2018 Rising ocean acidity has already bleached Florida’s coral reefs and killed valuable oysters in the Pacific Northwest. Eric Niiler, National Geographic, "The Ocean Is Getting More Acidic—What That Actually Means," 15 June 2018 Blue-leaved varieties will bleach to green with too much direct sun. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Grow The Most Stunning Hostas," 16 May 2017 Shiny bleached oak flooring ups the glossy factor throughout the house. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "Renovated midcentury with modern kitchen asks $750K," 25 June 2018 But sometimes, life imitates art: In September 2017, Emilia bleached her hair, immediately drawing comparisons to her character, and has been rocking the color ever since. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Kit Harington Wants to Get a Haircut After Game of Thrones," 21 June 2018 The more recent, real-life trend of Asian women coloring or bleaching their hair in order to subvert stereotypes is undoubtedly a good thing. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "It's Time to Retire the 'Hairstreak Asian' Trope," 24 May 2018 McCullers, who bleached the top quadrant of his geometrically precise hairstyle after his last start, was equally precise through the first five innings, facing the minimum 15 batters with five strikeouts. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Lance McCullers cruises, offense explodes in Astros' win over Athletics," 28 Apr. 2018 Two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef were reported as dead or severely bleached, and the devastating effects continue. Rebecca Albright, Scientific American, "Scientists Are Taking Extreme Steps to Help Corals Survive," 1 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The absolute best way to clean a sponge is to soak it in a gallon of water mixed with 3/4 cups bleach for five minutes, but even that won't make your sponge last forever. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Test Your Housekeeping Knowledge: How Gross Are Your Cleaning Habits?," 10 July 2018 Spread the oxygen bleach solution in a thin layer over each section using a scrub brush. Jolie Kerr, New York Times, "Five Ways to Make Spring Cleaning Easier," 4 May 2018 The opportunity for error when dealing with bleach is high, which can mean hiding under a hat for months. Elizabeth Denton, Seventeen, "5 Things You Need To Know Before Going Platinum," 17 Mar. 2015 Soak your hands in a diluted bleach bath to get rid of excess bacteria. Korin Miller, SELF, "8 Ways to Deal With That Frustrating Hand Eczema," 25 Apr. 2018 There were the chunky, streaky highlights; the ombré; and the bleach blonde double process that left me with lavender hair that would later fade to gray and then platinum. Ella Cerón, Teen Vogue, "How to Fix Bad Box Hair Dye," 10 July 2018 The heat of the nuclear explosion bleaches or darkens the background surface, except for the spot blocked by the person, leaving a corresponding outline. Daily Intelligencer, "This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like," 12 June 2018 The curly girls took the co-washes, the bleach blondes tried the purple shampoos, and the fine-haired ladies snatched up the foam conditioner (yes, that does exist). Jessica Cruel, SELF, "The 9 Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Every Hair Type and Texture," 14 May 2018 And for the World Cup in 2018, bleach on top and shaved on the sides is practically rote. Dan Adler, Vanities, "The World Cup Is Halfway Over, Here’s What Comes Next," 29 June 2018

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

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Learn More about bleach

Dictionary Entries near bleach





bleached ginger

bleached rattler


Phrases Related to bleach

bottle/bleached/peroxide blonde

Statistics for bleach

Last Updated

3 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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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Comments on bleach

What made you want to look up bleach? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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