\ 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

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of bleach in a Sentence

Verb bones bleached white by the sun She bleached her hair blonde.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Tens of miles away from the closest hospital, farmers would try to heal the wounds with an artisanal ointment that would bleach the skin. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, "Colombia wants to resume spraying a toxic chemical to fight cocaine. Critics say it's too risky," 28 Aug. 2020 The country also became the first in the world to ban types of sunscreen (about half of the commercially available options, according to the BBC) that contain ingredients known to bleach coral. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian Magazine, "Twelve Anniversaries and Events Worth Traveling for in 2020," 24 Jan. 2020 One way to prevent damage is to bleach just your roots instead of your whole head. Dori Price, Good Housekeeping, "How to Safely Bleach Your Hair at Home, According to Color Pros," 30 June 2020 Anyone who uses the shower must bleach it before and after use. Chris Moody, The New Republic, "Living in Your Car as a Pandemic Consumes Your City," 1 June 2020 Cleaners in head-to-toe hazmat suits bleached and disinfected surfaces of St. Peter’s Basilica over the weekend, Reuters reported. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Italy Reopens Shops, Restaurants in Latest Lockdown Lift — What to Know," 18 May 2020 Entire pistachio groves have bleached and died for lack of water as overtaxed wells dry out. Marc Champion,, "The U.S.-Iran Pistachio War Is Heating Up," 10 May 2020 With a rocker’s bleached-out shag, ropy arms vined with tattoos and jangly silver bracelets, and skintight jeans slashed by rips and rivets, Mr. Webb was a proudly resolute bearer of the punk-glam torch, even as the decades moved inexorably along. Penelope Green, New York Times, "Jimmy Webb, Purveyor of Punk Fashion, Is Dead at 62," 16 Apr. 2020 In one state, returning migrants were asked to squat on the road, and sprayed with a bleaching agent. Sarita Santoshini, The Christian Science Monitor, "What a lockdown means when home is hundreds of miles away," 13 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An Anchorage man faces attempted murder, assault and arson charges after pouring bleach on a female relative, injuring her head and lighting a fire outside her bedroom early Wednesday morning, police said in an alert. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage man accused of assaulting woman and starting fire in home after argument, police say," 10 Sep. 2020 Miley Cyrus has a loooong history of memorable VMAs looks – her silver chandelier outfit, her bleach blonde pixie, her infamous nude latex set. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Miley Cyrus Shows Off Her Underwear in Mirrored Naked Dress at the 2020 MTV VMAs," 31 Aug. 2020 Once confirmed, apply the bleach mixture noted above. Alicia Chilton, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Clean Mold Off Every Type of Outdoor Furniture," 5 Aug. 2020 Police said officers found Hopkins, who was unresponsive after appearing to have drank bleach, in another bathroom. Gabrielle Chung,, "Florida Boy, 10, Hid in Bathroom as Intruder Beat 2 Family Members to Death with Baseball Bat: Police," 31 July 2020 For small batches, use 4 teaspoons of regular chlorine bleach and 1 quart of water. Lynn Redmile, Good Housekeeping, "The Right Way to Kill Coronavirus Germs, According to Cleaning Experts," 7 July 2020 Police said the leak was at a facility run by Biolab, which manufactures chemicals used in household cleaners such as Comet bleach scrub and chlorine powder for pools. Melinda Deslatte, Star Tribune, "Laura thrashes Louisiana, nearby states face tornado threats," 28 Aug. 2020 BioLab's Lake Charles plant was built in 1979 and manufactures trichloroisocyanuric acid, chlorinating granules and other chemicals used in such household cleaners as Comet bleach scrub and chlorine powder for swimming pools. CBS News, "Chemical fire breaks out in Hurricane Laura's wake; Louisiana governor says "shelter in place"," 27 Aug. 2020 WFAA News reported that, when compared to the same time last year, the Texas Poison Center Network saw a nearly 58 percent increase in the number of calls related to bleach products. Shacamree Gowdy, Houston Chronicle, "'Bleach is not a cure for COVID-19,' poison officials reaffirm after 46 north Texans ingest product," 25 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for bleach

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bleach

Last Updated

2 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bleach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for bleach


How to pronounce bleach (audio)

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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