\ 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 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 Aerial surveys conducted along the 2,000-kilometer-long reef over nine days in late March show that 25 percent of 1,036 individuals reefs surveyed were severely affected, with more than 60 percent of corals bleached. Fox News, "Great Barrier reef sees most widespread bleaching ever recorded, scientists say," 8 Apr. 2020 The Great Barrier Reef, which just experienced its third mass bleaching event in five years, escaped bleaching in 2019 but its condition remains poor. Graham Readfearn, Wired, "2019 Was 'Probably the Worst Year in a Century' for Australia," 5 Apr. 2020 Here in the south all-purpose flour has a lower gluten content than most other all-purpose flour in the US and it’s also bleached to weaken the gluten content that’s there. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "July Fourth seems like a perfect target date for baseball to return. It’s also a nightmare scenario for MLB owners," 3 Apr. 2020 Soaps, detergent won't kill COVID-19 Don't bleach the veggies or use chlorine on the fruit. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Cleaning produce in the age of coronavirus: Take these food safety steps, rinse and repeat," 27 Mar. 2020 But already rising water temperatures are bleaching the Seychelles’ coral reefs. Washington Post, "Seychelles leader: No time for ‘blame game’ in climate fight," 29 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But remember: More bleach is not better and can be unsafe. Kacey Ernst, The Conversation, "Should you fly yet? An epidemiologist and an exposure scientist walk you through the decision process," 22 May 2020 That included a 77% jump for bleach and a 56% increase for hand sanitizer. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus live updates: Push for vaccine accelerates; Los Angeles stay-at-home order could impact sports return," 13 May 2020 The Times found more than 45,000 tweets discussing bleach and UV light cures for the coronavirus related to the president’s comments. Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Amazon wasn't prepared for the coronavirus. Now it's facing major costs.," 30 Apr. 2020 The state public health director said the reports included people using disinfectants as a sinus rinse, and someone combining bleach and mouthwash to kill germs. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 25," 26 Apr. 2020 Donie O'Sullivan writes: The president's Thursday evening remarks will likely embolden the same online con artists who have been pushing false claims about bleach being a cure for the coronavirus. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Trump's inconsistent coronavirus messaging 'compromises public trust,' former surgeon general says," 24 Apr. 2020 The disinfectant is sodium hypochlorite, similar in composition to bleach. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office, county judge lock horns over funding for free disinfectant," 6 Apr. 2020 Sansoni says bleach is one of the most economical disinfecting agents. Author: Elizabeth Mayhew, Anchorage Daily News, "The right way to clean and disinfect household surfaces," 29 Mar. 2020 Prosecutors said that Thomas had blood on his clothing and smelled like bleach, according to the Associated Press. Tara Law, Time, "Man Arrested After Five People Stabbed at Hanukkah Celebration in New York. Here's What to Know," 29 Dec. 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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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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bleach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 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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