\ 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 Schools have been outfitted with face masks, hand sanitizer, air purifiers and filters, temperature check stations and lots of posters reminding students to mask up, stay six feet apart and wash their hands. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Excited and stressed, San Diego’s educators prepare for first day of in-person school Monday," 11 Apr. 2021 DeWine simplified pandemic health orders Monday, and among them, Ohioans must still wear a mask, stay socially distant, wash your hands and limit indoor gatherings to 10 people. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, "COVID-19 vaccine do's and don'ts: What to keep in mind after the shot in the arm," 7 Apr. 2021 That means everyone—including those who have been vaccinated—should wear masks, opt for outdoor or well ventilated spaces, stay six feet apart, and wash their hands frequently. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What Can You Do After Your COVID-19 Vaccine? The CDC Just Released New Guidelines.," 8 Mar. 2021 So people need to do everything: wear masks, stay apart, ventilate indoor spaces as much as possible and wash hands frequently. Maggie Fox, CNN, "Masks are critical to stopping coronavirus spread, even at home, CDC says," 4 Dec. 2020 Just wear a mask, stay distant from others and wash your hands afterward. David Leonhardt, New York Times, "Three Steps for Safe Living," 4 Dec. 2020 Please wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay at least six feet apart from others. cleveland, "Stay safe this holiday season, health department releases guidelines: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 14 Nov. 2020 Simply wash your favorite pair on a cold gentle cycle and air dry to keep your shoes clean and germ-free! Joseph Deacetis, Forbes, "Mother’s Day Gift Guide: The Most Stylish Accessories," 19 Apr. 2021 Before and after stops, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Summer concerts are almost here, but will they be safe? What you should know," 19 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The reveals in this particular lip sync are a wash — neither tearaway adds or subtracts from either queen’s overall performance. Paul Mccallion, Vulture, "RuPaul’s Drag Race Season-Finale Recap: And the Winner Is…," 23 Apr. 2021 Water consumption for cloth rags vs. paper towels is apparently a wash. Washington Post, "Tips to kick your paper towel habit," 20 Apr. 2021 So by the end of the day, the supportive news about accommodative policy and negative news about economic uncertainty appeared to be a wash with investors because those issues have already been baked into the proverbial cake. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, "With The 10-Year Yield Under 1.7%, Investors Return Focus To Big Tech-Related Stocks," 8 Apr. 2021 New Wash is a shampoo alternative belonging to a somewhat new class of products called a co-wash or cleansing conditioner. Nicola Fumo, Forbes, "I Had Dull, Lifeless Hair—Until This Shampoo Transformed My Strands," 21 Apr. 2021 Activate the wash feature on your bidet seat or attachment. Corey Whelan, Health.com, "How to Use a Bidet Toilet Seat," 20 Apr. 2021 This vintage pair of dark wash mom jeans, in particular, is a rare find, featuring high quality and good price. Sarah Vincelette, USA TODAY, "11 hidden gems you can find on Etsy under $50," 4 Mar. 2021 In the latest Cambridge family Christmas card photo, Princess Charlotte is wearing a particularly stylish little outfit—a pair of dark wash jeans paired with a cozy sweater and adorable, knee-high brown leather boots. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Princess Charlotte Mimicked Kate Middleton's Amazing Style in Their Family Christmas Card Picture," 19 Dec. 2020 For a smart-casual look, pair your new pullover with dark wash jeans, sunglasses and loafers. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "L.L. Bean is now available at Nordstrom: Boots, jackets and more," 5 Nov. 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

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wash. Accessed 8 May. 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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