\ ˈwȯsh , ˈwäsh , chiefly Midland also ˈwȯrsh or ˈwärsh \
washed; washing; washes

Definition of wash 

(Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to cleanse by or as if by the action of liquid (such as water)

b : to remove (something, such as dirt) by rubbing or drenching with liquid

2 : to cleanse (fur) by licking or by rubbing with a paw moistened with saliva

3a : to flush or moisten (a bodily part or injury) with a liquid

b(1) : to wet thoroughly : drench

(2) : to overspread with light : suffuse

c : to pass a liquid (such as water) over or through especially so as to carry off material from the surface or interior

4 : to flow along or dash or overflow against waves washing the shore

5 : to move, carry, or deposit by or as if by the force of water in motion houses washed away by the flood

6a : to subject (something, such as crushed ore) to the action of water to separate valuable material

b : to separate (particles) from a substance (such as ore) by agitation with or in water

c(1) : to pass through a bath to carry off impurities or soluble components

(2) : to pass (a gas or gaseous mixture) through or over a liquid to purify it especially by removing soluble components

7a : to cover or daub lightly with or as if with an application of a thin liquid (such as whitewash or varnish)

b : to depict or paint by a broad sweep of thin color with a brush

8 : to cause to swirl washing coffee around in his cup

9 : launder sense 3 how the mob washes its money through corrupt bankers —Vincent Teresa

intransitive verb

1 : to wash oneself or a part of one's body

2 : to become worn away by the action of water

3 : to clean something by rubbing or dipping in water

4a : to become carried along on water : drift cakes of ice washing along

b : to pour, sweep, or flow in a stream or current waves of pioneers washing westward —Green Peyton

5 : to serve as a cleansing agent this soap washes thoroughly

6a : to undergo laundering this dress doesn't wash well

b(1) : to undergo testing successfully : work sense 3 an interesting theory, but it just won't wash

(2) : to gain acceptance : inspire belief the story didn't wash with me

wash one's hands of

: to disclaim interest in, responsibility for, or further connection with



Definition of wash (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a piece of ground washed by the sea or river

b : bog, marsh

c(1) : a shallow body of water

(2) : a shallow creek

d Western US : the dry bed of a stream

called also dry wash

2a : the act or process or an instance of washing or being washed

b : articles to be washed, being washed, or having been washed

3 : the surging action or sound of waves also : something resembling this action or sound the warm wash of applause that followed her … introduction —John Updike

4a : worthless especially liquid waste : refuse

b : an insipid beverage

c : vapid writing or speech

5a : a sweep or splash especially of color made by or as if by a long stroke of a brush in the gray wash of early morning

b : a thin coat of paint (such as watercolor)

c : a thin liquid used for coating a surface (such as a wall)

6 : lotion

7 : loose or eroded surface material of the earth (such as rock debris) transported and deposited by running water

8a : backwash sense 1

b : a disturbance in a fluid (such as water or the air) produced by the passage of an airfoil or propeller

9 : a situation in which losses and gains or advantages and disadvantages balance each other



Definition of wash (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : involving essentially simultaneous purchase and sale of the same security spurious market activity resulting from wash trading

2 : washable wash fabric

Definition of Wash (Entry 4 of 4)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for wash

Synonyms: Verb

bathe, bedraggle, douse (also dowse), drench, drown, soak, sop, souse, water, water-soak, waterlog, wet, wet down

Synonyms: Noun

bog, fen, marsh, marshland, mire, moor, morass, muskeg, slough (also slew), swamp, swampland, wetland

Antonyms: Verb

dehydrate, desiccate, dry, parch, scorch, sear

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Examples of wash in a Sentence


We have to wash the dishes. Did you wash your hands? The flooding washed sand and silt all over the area. The pollution washes into rivers from nearby factories. Water washed over the deck of the ship. Waves washed up onto the beach.


My jeans are in the wash. We could hear the wash of the waves against the rocks. The wash from speedboats is dangerous for swimmers.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The most important steps may be the low-tech ones that are hardest to enforce routinely: wearing gloves, wearing gowns, washing hands. Maryn Mckenna, WIRED, "The Strange and Curious Case of the Deadly Superbug Yeast," 13 July 2018 Ahead of Fourth of July grilling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering a reminder to wash our hands. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Most people don't wash their hands correctly, USDA study," 29 June 2018 Aim for creamy textures like a balm or oil, and be sure to watch the water temperature when washing your face. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best Face Washes to Swap Into Your Morning Routine," 28 June 2018 Ages 2 to 3 Before cooking, always ask your child to wash her hands; this is an important habit to teach. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "How to start teaching your kids to cook: an age-appropriate guide," 12 June 2018 The virus can spread from individuals who fail to wash their hands adequately after using the restroom. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "What you need to know: Indiana Burger King worker with Hepatitis A handled food while sick," 6 June 2018 The first lesson covers how to behave around the chickens and includes basic biohazard training and the need for washing hands. Courant Community, "Community News For The Vernon Edition," 5 June 2018 The dress was a real work of artistry, featuring flawless white threadwork that required the embroiderers to wash their hands every 30 minutes to avoid staining the fabric with oils from their skin. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Prince Harry's Words to Royal Wedding Dress Designer Clare Waight Keller After the Ceremony Will Melt Your Heart," 21 May 2018 Note: wash hands after using habanero spray to ward off raccoons. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "The diary of a broken man and his 'pet' raccoon," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Milwaukee Public Schools will receive doors, mirrors, bathroom stall partitions, toilets and wash stations, the Bucks said. James B. Nelson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Bucks' donations of Bradley Center equipment will help Habitat build new homes," 19 June 2018 Amenities at Overton Row, with 323 units, include a pool, a gym with on-demand fitness video classes, fire pits, a dog park with wash stations and a concierge. Ely Portillo, charlotteobserver, "Studio apartments start at $1,135, and that's the cheapest at new Charlotte buildings," 4 June 2018 Dog Park Named after two dogs belonging to Bushes, this 6-acre park has walking trails, benches, concrete wash stations and separate areas for small and large dogs. Houston Chronicle, "Houston parks where your dog can be a dog," 10 May 2018 On the other end of the house, off the kitchen, is a second foyer entrance and mudroom, a practical yet sophisticated room with a foot-wash station large enough to bathe a muddy dog, a walk-out to the backyard and a small cozy office. Linda Hingham, courant.com, "Property of the Week: 198 Woodland Street, Glastonbury," 29 Jan. 2018 Sweaters Sweaters made of materials like wool, velvet, or cashmere can easily get ruined in the wash. Elana Lyn Gross, Cincinnati.com, "15 things you should never put in the washing machine," 5 July 2018 The company’s grooming products, which include face and beard wash, beard oil and a beard starter kit, are all made in America. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Celebrate Fourth of July by supporting these veteran-owned companies," 4 July 2018 The inverted shorts come in two slightly different washes and styles, named the Nancy and the El, a reference to the two main female characters of Netflix's Stranger Things. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "CIE Denim Created Upside-Down Shorts," 3 July 2018 Another reason to check your Croatian oregano or powdered face wash? Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "The TSA's New Powder Rule, Explained," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Tybee Tea CocktailMakes about 1 gallon 1 large bunch fresh mint 1 cup sugar 2 quarts James T's Secret Iced Tea (recipe follows) 2 quarts lemonade Bourbon Lemon slices for serving Wash mint. Ann Maloney, NOLA.com, "Beach cocktail: Tybee Tea Cocktail recipe," 28 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wash.' 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 wash


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wash


Middle English, from Old English wascan; akin to Old High German waskan to wash and perhaps to Old English wæter water

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Dictionary Entries near wash

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wash

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

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More Definitions for wash



Financial Definition of wash

What It Is

A wash occurs when two actions cancel each other out (such as a gain and an equal loss), effectively creating a break-even situation.

How It Works

Let's assume XYZ Company sells $1,000 worth of products. If these products cost XYZ Company $1,000 to manufacture, the transaction is considered a wash. Likewise, if an investor makes a $1,000 profit on an investment but loses $1,000 on another investment during the same time, the result is considered a wash.

Why It Matters

Obviously, profit motivates most companies to minimize wash transactions. However, wash transactions may have tax benefits, most of which are illegal. Investors should be aware of specific tax rules and prohibitions regarding wash transactions (see Wash Sale).

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of wash

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to clean (something) with water and usually soap

: to carry (something) by the movement of water

: to be carried by the movement of water



English Language Learners Definition of wash (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of cleaning something by using water and soap : an act of washing something

: a group of clothes, towels, sheets, etc., that are being washed or that are going to be washed

: the movement of water; especially : the waves made in the water after a moving boat passes by


\ ˈwȯsh , ˈwäsh \
washed; washing

Kids Definition of wash

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to cleanse with water and usually a cleaning agent (as soap) Wash your hands and face.

2 : to wet completely with liquid The flowers were washed with raindrops.

3 : to flow along or overflow against Waves wash up on the shore.

4 : to remove or carry away by the action of water Wash the mud off the car. She was washed overboard.

5 : to stand being cleansed without injury Linen washes well.



Kids Definition of wash (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : articles (as clothes, sheets, and towels) in the laundry

2 : an act or instance of cleansing or of being cleansed We gave the car a good wash.

3 : the flow, sound, or action of water

4 : a backward flow of water (as made by the motion of a boat)

5 : material carried or set down by water



Kids Definition of Wash.


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\ ˈwȯsh , ˈwäsh \

Medical Definition of wash 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cleanse by or as if by the action of liquid (as water)

2 : to flush or moisten (a bodily part or injury) with a liquid wash the wound with saline solution

3 : to pass through a liquid to carry off impurities or soluble components

intransitive verb

1 : to wash oneself or a part of one's body

2 : to clean something by rubbing or dipping in water



Medical Definition of wash (Entry 2 of 2)

: a liquid medicinal preparation used especially for cleansing or antisepsis — see eyewash, mouthwash

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Comments on wash

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an open space surrounded by woods

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