\ ˈwȯsh How to pronounce wash (audio) , ˈwäsh How to pronounce wash (audio) , chiefly Midland also ˈwȯrsh How to pronounce wash (audio) 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
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 for wash

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of wash in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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 All staff will wear masks at all times, wash hands often and use hand sanitizer routinely throughout event. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "Tempe's Marquee Theatre is bringing live music back in April. Here's what you need to know," 25 Mar. 2021 Officials urged people to continue to wear masks, socially distance, wash their hands, and limit the size of gatherings with people outside their immediate household. BostonGlobe.com, "Cambridge says it won’t loosen coronavirus restrictions as much as state," 22 Mar. 2021 So wear a mask; wash your hands; keep six feet apart; book ahead; sanitize, sanitize, sanitize — and be nice to people, especially locals who are working to keep your trip safe. Nina Ruggiero, Travel + Leisure, "I Took a Ski Trip to Lake Tahoe During COVID — Here’s What It Was Like," 18 Mar. 2021 Just apply the cream to your face, wash your hands, and wait five minutes. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, "The Best Facial Hair Removers for Getting Rid of Stubborn Peach Fuzz," 4 Mar. 2021 On one recent night, dozens patiently waited to have their temperatures taken and wash their hands, mandates for entry during an ongoing pandemic. Natalie Gallón, CNN, "Migrants face danger as numbers headed toward US grow," 1 Mar. 2021 Shelby, who was in the same program, remembers when their class first went to a local nursing home to do clinical work, helping patients to eat, wash, and get out of bed. Ann Givens, Detroit Free Press, "'He killed my baby': Michigan woman 'did everything right' to protect herself from ex," 26 Jan. 2021 In the meantime, be sure to mask up, wash your hands and stay 6 feet apart when possible. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Here’s the lowdown on cheap flight tickets using Alaska Airlines miles, elite status and D.C. flight safety protocols," 16 Jan. 2021 Wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands, and stay at home as much as possible. Popular Science, "The best treatments we currently have for COVID-19," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In another wing is a workshop and bike storage as well as a dog-wash station. oregonlive, "Co-housing during the coronavirus: What are seniors up to? Planting vegetables, practicing yoga," 9 Apr. 2021 Pair it with dark-wash jeans and dress shoes that veer more on the casual side, like these slip-ons from Target’s in-house line Cat & Jack. Lauren Caruso, CNN Underscored, "12 Easter Sunday outfit ideas for the entire family," 30 Mar. 2021 To survive, many dry cleaners have pivoted to disinfection services, alterations and wash-and-fold-services. NBC News, "One year later, many dry cleaners are still hanging on by a thread," 12 Mar. 2021 First of all the 5,000-square-ft. store, in Berea’s West Valley Plaza, is a pet supply emporium, with an a prodigious array of pet care products, toys and pet-food brands -- and even a do-it-yourself dog-wash facility. Rich Heileman, cleveland, "Give your pooch a wash at Berea’s Pet Supplies Plus: Around The Town," 5 Mar. 2021 Essentially a facial in a bottle, the wash-off mask is designed to be used once a week due to its high levels of AHAs, which deliver the same effect as a peel to leave skin glowing and polished. Celia Shatzman, Forbes, "New Skincare Line Ambari Delivers Results In One Night," 4 Mar. 2021 Gigi appeared cozy, wearing a white polo-style sweater; a cream-hued, knit cardigan; and light-wash denim. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Yolanda Hadid Just Revealed the Moment Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Knew They Were Expecting a Girl," 14 Dec. 2020 Contrary to the belief that fringe is high maintenance, the extra shape and definition allows Vaxelaire the kind of Gallic wash-and-go ease she's always admired of her idol Françoise Hardy. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "The French Girl’s Guide to Bangs, According to 3 Parisian It Girls," 14 Oct. 2020 Following State of Georgia and CDC guidance on outdoor gatherings, the event will include health checks, face mask requirements, touch-point hand-wash and sanitation stations, and social distancing. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Atlanta Welcomes Back Live Music With Socially Distanced Concert Series," 1 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That wash-rinse-repeat cycle has played out repeatedly over the last century, three times in the last 14 years alone. New York Times, "Why $4-a-Gallon Gas May Be Coming Your Way This Summer," 11 Mar. 2021 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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Time Traveler for wash

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wash

Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wash. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for wash



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 How to pronounce wash (audio) , 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.

\ ˈwȯsh How to pronounce wash (audio) , ˈwäsh How to pronounce wash (audio) \

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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