\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, sodden, 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

It was reported that the bodies of the Lake Serpent’s captain and his brother, Ezra and Robert Wright, washed ashore in Lorain County, Ohio in the first week of October 1829. Fox News, "Mysterious shipwreck reveals its secrets: Wreck may be Lake Erie’s oldest," 15 Oct. 2018 The clear, blue water that washed ashore a month ago had some Galveston businesses counting extra green, figures from the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau show. Jose R. Gonzalez, Houston Chronicle, "Galveston’s blue water was a boon for island business," 6 July 2018 But washing your hands is important outside of the kitchen too; the CDC reports that proper handwashing can reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, by 16-21%. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Department of Agriculture Study Reveals Most People Wash Hands Incorrectly," 1 July 2018 The mom of the 4-year-old whose body washed ashore in Texas in 2017 and was identified last week allegedly admitted to abusing him after his behavior changed following a head injury, according to multiple news reports. Harriet Sokmensuer, PEOPLE.com, "Texas Mom Claims She Abused Son, Dumped Naked Body After Head Injury Made Him Behave Badly: Reports," 25 June 2018 Adding to the mystery were messages that washed ashore weeks later. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "8 undiscovered shipwrecks of the Great Lakes," 22 June 2018 The Union Jack still flutters over a cemetery for four British sailors who washed ashore in 1942. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "He terrorized the N.C. coast in World War II. The last U-boat captain has died at 105.," 19 June 2018 In the Gulf of Carpentaria, which spans Queensland and the Northern Territory in Australia, discarded or lost fishing nets wash ashore in some of the highest densities globally—up to three tons per kilometer yearly. National Geographic, "These Communities Turn Discarded Fishing Nets Into Carpets," 13 June 2018 In this part of Congo, washing the body is an important part of a funeral; the priestly laying on of hands is also common when people go to traditional healers. The Economist, "The Ebola outbreak in Congo can probably be contained," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Instead of his usual burgundy shadow, BamBam's lids were topped with a sheer wash of terracotta brown shadow and a clear gloss. Devon Abelman, Allure, "See K-Pop Group GOT7's Best Hair and Makeup Looks from the New "Lullaby" Music Video," 17 Sep. 2018 To fight back the swarms, the owner doused the sheep in a wash of the insecticide permethrin. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "US invaded by savage tick that sucks animals dry, spawns without mating," 8 Aug. 2018 Laura Taylor and Ryan Holliday-Stevens aren't minimal purists, but they like a sleek line, sculptural elements, a slick cut, solid black and white with an occasional intense wash of color. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Solace London Designer Wears The Pants, Four Chic Ways," 26 July 2018 Totally different looks, one palette — swipe to see: Wear It During the Day: Your Main Squeeze Get it: Apply Main Squeeze all over the lid and on the inner corner for a wash of shimmer. Eden Univer, Seventeen, "4 Lemonade-Inspired Eyeshadow Looks from the Summer's Sweetest Palette," 16 July 2018 For high-volume family kitchens, the quick-wash cycle handles glasses and plates between full loads of the regular dishwasher. Rebecca Winzenried, ELLE Decor, "Home Magazine's 5th Annual Kitchen & Bath Awards 2003," 5 July 2012 Flood waters often rush unexpectedly through normally dry canyons and washes, sometimes with tragic consequences. Felicia Fonseca And Alina Hartounian, chicagotribune.com, "Flash flood sends tourists to high ground near Grand Canyon," 13 July 2018 Brush your puff pastry with an egg wash (one large egg lightly beaten with about 1 teaspoon water) to give it sheen and color. Carole Kotkin, miamiherald, "Puff pastry can be used in countless sweet and savory ways," 12 July 2018 To make an egg wash, combine one egg and the water. Nancy Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Ciao Ristorante is Italian food with the ultimate Sicilian twist," 3 July 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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Statistics for wash

Last Updated

16 Nov 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

What made you want to look up wash? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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