\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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bleach


bleachable \ ˈblē-​chə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for bleach

Synonyms: Verb

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

Antonyms: Verb

darken, deepen, embrown

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of bleach in a Sentence


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Marmur and Sadick agree that pads with a rough texture or made from a material that has been bleached or treated with other chemicals can be too harsh on skin and trigger allergic reactions. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Korean Cotton Pads Are the Secret to a Proper K-Beauty Skin Routine," 4 Oct. 2018 The products at the drugstore all have essentially the same whitening ingredient - the bleaching agent peroxide. Jill U. Adams,, "The pros and cons of whitening your teeth," 1 May 2018 My shocked realization happened in 2014, as the third global mass-bleaching event began. Rebecca Albright, Scientific American, "Scientists Are Taking Extreme Steps to Help Corals Survive," 1 Jan. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The science site suggests using boiling water and a small amount of bleach to get rid of larvae. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "New Hampshire beach covered in thousands of 'nasty' maggots," 7 Sep. 2018 Surprisingly enough, five minutes of bleach got that out of my extremely light hair. Marci Robin, Allure, "A Bride's Blue Pen Exploded in Her Hair Days Before Her Wedding, and the Photos Are Dramatic," 18 Aug. 2018 Workers at the Union facility scour, bleach, dye and finish the cotton material, sending rolls of the fabric to Thomaston for cutting, sewing and packaging. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Looming Trade Lesson," 9 Aug. 2018 But soon after, authorities say Carter — with a pot of hot grease in one hand and bleach and a butcher knife in the other — hunted down Henderson. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "DeKalb woman convicted of throwing hot grease in victim’s face," 13 July 2018 Donors provided four ambulances, numerous motorcycles and megaphones, and thousands of bleach tablets. New York Times, "Ebola Outbreak in Central Africa Is ‘Largely Contained’," 28 June 2018 Soak the seashells in a 50-50 solution of bleach and water. Cassie Armstrong,, "Seashell Day: How to observe in Central Florida," 21 June 2018 In a photo obtained by TMZ, Jenner, 22, is captured kissing a man who, like Anwar, 18, has bleach blond hair. Natalie Stone,, "Was Kendall Jenner Caught Making Out with Gigi and Bella Hadid's Brother Anwar?," 5 June 2018 Participants can use bleach pens, fabric markers and paints to make their own wearable design. Laura Bednar,, "Meet authors Marty Gitlin, Ace Atkins at Independence Library," 30 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bleach

Dictionary Entries near bleach





bleached ginger

bleached rattler


Statistics for bleach

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bleach

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!