\ ˈklenz How to pronounce cleanse (audio) \
cleansed; cleansing; cleanses

Definition of cleanse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : clean especially : to rid of impurities by or as if by washing cleansed the wound It's that mystical state most athletes are lucky to achieve a few times in their careers. The mind is cleansed. The body is free. — Jon Wertheim
2 : to expel, imprison, or kill (the members of an ethnic minority) in (an area) : to subject to or remove by ethnic cleansing In 1996, tens of thousands of ethnic Tutsis, most of them of Rwandan origin, were murdered or ethnically cleansed in the Masisi region of eastern Zaire.— David Rieff

intransitive verb

: to engage in or undergo a cleanse to remove toxins from the body Some people who cleanse say they experience dramatic physical changes.— Karen Hube



Definition of cleanse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a very restrictive short-term diet primarily intended to remove toxins from the body Under the supervision of her nutritionist … Gillian Anderson has reportedly participated in cleanses that consist of little more than liquids for 10 days.— J. D. Heiman … told me about her 28-day cleanse, which limits the caffeine, sugar, gluten, dairy and red meat in your diet.— Jon Harris

Synonyms for cleanse

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of cleanse in a Sentence

Verb The cut should be cleansed gently with mild soap and water. in an elaborate ritual the priestess cleansed the gathering of supplicants
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Forget crystals — frame this photo of Bella Hadid to cleanse your soul, provide healing energy, and manifest all of your dreams. Seventeen, 23 Aug. 2022 Using a combination of coconut oil, green tea, apricot powder, and charcoal, the Pacifica Coconut & Charcoal Scrub is intended to cleanse, hydrate, unclog pores, and neutralize odors. Sara Coughlin, SELF, 30 July 2022 Wet the bar and rub it into your hands to create a lather, then apply to your roots and cleanse as normal. Chiara Butler, Good Housekeeping, 29 June 2022 This lightweight and sulfate-free formula with a milky texture is the magical and gentle way to cleanse your strands. Blake Newby, Essence, 17 Aug. 2022 Formulated for curl types 3A to 4C, this milky wash has a light consistency meant to gently cleanse and hydrate strands. Emily Burns, ELLE, 17 Aug. 2022 Sweeping art under the rug does nothing to cleanse the past of its foulness. WSJ, 5 July 2022 The study suggests rising emissions may be partly explained by effects of global warming: wetlands producing more methane; and wildfire smoke depleting the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of harmful gases. David Meyer, Fortune, 5 July 2022 Now, her products aim to cleanse, prep, treat and protect your skin. Katarina Avendano, Good Housekeeping, 3 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the first season of The Kardashians, the 43-year-old engaged in an Ayurvedic Panchakarma cleanse. Starr Bowenbank, Billboard, 12 Sep. 2022 LaRose starts the dance here by carrying a burning bundle of sage around the circle, inviting participants to waft the smoke toward them as a cleanse. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 May 2022 Fasting is distinct from the likes of a juice cleanse or a two-day restrictive diet. Kyle Boelte, Outside Online, 10 Nov. 2017 With over 7,000 vibrations per minute, PMD promises a thorough cleanse for every skin type. Anna Tingley, Variety, 14 July 2022 Apply it on wet or dry hair, leave it in for five minutes, and wash off with water for a thorough cleanse. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 May 2022 There’s something therapeutic about a deep cleanse and exfoliation. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 19 July 2022 The aligner toothbrush head is crafted to ensure a deep cleanse between your teeth and retainers. Lauren Dana Ellman, Allure, 12 July 2022 Perhaps start with a good cleanse with La Roche-Posay’s gentle creamy cleanser for the face, or Klorane’s strengthening shampoo for hair. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 30 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cleanse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cleanse


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1999, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cleanse


Middle English clensen, from Old English clǣnsian to purify, from clǣne clean

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

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cleanse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for cleanse


\ ˈklenz How to pronounce cleanse (audio) \
cleansed; cleansing

Kids Definition of cleanse

: to make clean Cleanse the wound with soap and water.


transitive verb
\ ˈklenz \
cleansed; cleansing

Medical Definition of cleanse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make clean

intransitive verb

: to engage in or undergo a cleanse to remove toxins from the body



Medical Definition of cleanse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a very restrictive short-term diet primarily intended to remove toxins from the body

More from Merriam-Webster on cleanse

Nglish: Translation of cleanse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cleanse for Arabic Speakers


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