\ 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

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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 Packed with grapeseed oil as well as vitamins E, A and B5, this oil will both cleanse your skin and leave it feeling soft. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "Missing the spa? Here’s how to give yourself a relaxing facial at home," 29 July 2020 Clinical and La Mer products to cleanse and moisturize, along with The Concentrate from La Mer and sun protection from Control Corrective. Thatiana Diaz,, "Chrissy Teigen Breaks Down Every Product In Her $824 Skin-Care Routine," 8 July 2020 This bare-bones skin cleanser is meant to gently cleanse the sensitive skin of your face and is made without harsh perfumes or chemicals that often cause redness and irritation. Popular Science, "Gentle face cleansers to wash the day away," 7 Nov. 2019 Emulating their basic approach could allow American cities to cleanse themselves of police abuse and still enjoy lower crime. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "What America can learn from Nordic police," 5 June 2020 Thalia Esparza, 26, walked around holding sprigs of burning sage — a Native American ritual believed to help cleanse a person or location. Taylor Pettaway,, "'I'm the mayor of this goddamn city': Nirenberg asks protesters to hold him accountable," 4 June 2020 The buttery fat turned the sparklers (and some reds) metallic, and those bubbles weren’t enough to cleanse the ham’s richness. Dallas News, "Throw a wine and jamon pairing at home with takeout from Enrique Tomas and some stunning wines," 15 May 2020 Members will be required to cleanse their hands with waterless hand sanitizer before entering and departing the House Chamber and are requested to follow all health safety procedures while on the Floor. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, "Best three-day rally since Great Depression in jeopardy as stocks fall," 27 Mar. 2020 Those basics should always include the following three steps, performed in the following order: The general rule of thumb here is that cleansing your complexion twice per day — once in the morning, once in the evening — is ideal. Rebecca Dancer, Allure, "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Skin Care," 2 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The engrossing result is the audio equivalent of a spiritual cleanse. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "8 Milwaukee albums and songs you have to hear in June, from Grace Weber, Space Raft, Klassik and more," 2 June 2020 The production facility has undergone a deep industrial sanitation cleanse. Marcus Crowder,, "Cannabis business leader Mikey Steinmetz has big ideas for the industry," 15 Apr. 2020 This is not the time to go keto, or get to race weight, or do a juice cleanse. Ac Shilton, Outside Online, "A Guide to Cooking and Eating During a Pandemic," 22 Mar. 2020 American farm fields were, however, about to undergo an unprecedented ecological cleanse. Gabriel Popkin, Scientific American, "What Is Really Killing Monarch Butterflies?," 1 Mar. 2020 For Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, a new year has started with a more specific kind of cleanse — firing her entire campaign staff. Elly Belle,, "Marianne Williamson Kicked Off Her 2020 Cleanse By Firing Her Entire Campaign Staff," 3 Jan. 2020 After doing a thorough cleanse, Nussbaum applies her go-to antioxidant serum: SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF With Ferulic Acid. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Eight Top Dermatologists Reveal Their Skin-Care Routines," 1 Dec. 2019 In one Hungarian study researchers interviewed people staying in juice cleanse camps, a sort of health retreat. Donavyn Coffey, Popular Science, "How to actually detox," 1 Jan. 2020 Back in Joe’s apartment, Badgley is done unloading the celery juices, but this cleanse is about to take a turn. Samantha Highfill,, "Falling for YOU: Penn Badgley talks EW through the twisted fandom (and season 2) of his Netflix hit," 26 Dec. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for cleanse

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cleanse

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cleanse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for cleanse


How to pronounce cleanse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cleanse

: to make (someone or something) clean


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

Kids Definition of cleanse

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cleanse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cleanse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cleanse

Spanish Central: Translation of cleanse

Nglish: Translation of cleanse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cleanse for Arabic Speakers

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