\ 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

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 Naturally Tan, fashionista Tan France is admitting to bleaching his skin at the age of 10. Eric Todisco,, "Queer Eye's Tan France Reveals He Bleached His Skin at Age 10: 'I've Been Ashamed'," 4 June 2019 My bare-bones research from bleaching my hair prepared me for a time-consuming salon trip. Glamour, "7 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Going From Blond to Brunette," 30 Mar. 2019 The women are often provocatively dressed, have had plastic surgery and have bleached blond hair. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Turkish Muslim TV host known to surround himself with ‘kittens’ arrested on sex assault, fraud, other charges," 12 July 2018 Chris JacksonGetty Images Max Mumby/IndigoGetty Images Whalen then had to bleach the top of his head. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "The Most Surprising Things Jordan Whalen Learned Playing Prince William," 27 May 2019 This bleached black-and-white, trippy tangle of naked bodies, with men posing like Greek statues, women painted to suggest paleolithic fertility goddesses, and anonymous fingers probing bodily orifices in mega close-up, was mind-boggling then. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, "Barbara Rubin, Shameless Angel of Avant-Garde Cinema," 21 May 2019 Stewart's brows have been bleached for at least a month. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kristen Stewart Is Making Bleached Eyebrows Happen," 29 May 2019 The bad news is that mounting evidence suggests that certain chemicals in these radiation filters are bleaching corals and killing fish. Yousong Ding, Washington Post, "Hawaii is set to ban sunscreens that damage coral. Greener, safer options are on the horizon.," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the narrow alley behind the market, beds black with mildew are scrubbed using rags soaked in bleach. Rowan Moore Gerety, Harper's magazine, "Downstream," 10 June 2019 But detectives found a pile of bloody towels, a bloody mop, bloody footprints and the strong smell of bleach in the house, as well as defensive wounds on Michael Redlick, who worked as a faculty member at the University of Central Florida. Fox News, "Florida woman accused of murdering her husband was once his stepdaughter: report," 11 June 2019 On May 3, Vence is seen carrying multiple bottles of bleach in and out of the apartment, as well as a laundry basket containing a black garbage bag. Tiffany Diane Tso,, "Suspect In Maleah Davis Case Finally Speaks, Claims "Nothing Bad Happened"," 6 June 2019 Think of it more as a fog in the water than as a bleach bottle bobbing along. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Turns out there's more plastic pollution in the deep ocean than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," 6 June 2019 While the rest of the cast posted emotional and heartfelt tributes to their Westeros counterparts, Maisie focused on the more important matter at hand—mid-length, bleach blonde hair with heavy, long bangs. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Maisie Williams Said Goodbye to Arya Stark With a Dramatic Blonde Hair Transformation," 21 May 2019 The hydrogen peroxide acts like an all-fabric bleach to whiten the canvas fabric and the baking soda helps scrub away scuffs and stains. Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean White Vans so They Look Brand New," 17 May 2019 For blondes, where bleach is involved, dye mishaps can lead to hair damage and breakage — not to mention tears and screaming. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Ellen DeGeneres Says Her Hair Is Falling Out, Thanks to a Bad Colorist," 1 May 2019 Performance fabric, which stands up to stains and is bleach cleanable. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Why You Should Be Skirting All Your Chairs," 19 Apr. 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

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Dictionary Entries near bleach





bleached ginger

bleached rattler


Statistics for bleach

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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 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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