wash

1 of 4

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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
6
a
: 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
7
a
: 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
4
a
: 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
6
a
: 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

2 of 4

noun

1
a
: 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

2
a
: 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
4
a
: worthless especially liquid waste : refuse
b
: an insipid beverage
c
: vapid writing or speech
5
a
: 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
8
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

wash

3 of 4

adjective

1
: involving essentially simultaneous purchase and sale of the same security
spurious market activity resulting from wash trading
2
: washable
wash fabric

Wash

4 of 4

abbreviation

Phrases
wash one's hands of
: to disclaim interest in, responsibility for, or further connection with

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Just be sure to thoroughly wash your hair to get the product out well. ELLE, 1 Dec. 2022 Officials say that Russian snipers, hiding a mile or so away, are taking potshots at civilians scooping water from the river to wash with. Jeffrey Gettleman Finbarr O’reilly, New York Times, 29 Nov. 2022 The majority of the user manuals in our test recommended that white rice be rinse before cooking to wash off excess starch. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, 29 Nov. 2022 It was considered an honor whoever got asked to wash the body, whoever was asked to dress the body, to do the body’s hair — these were all gestures of adornment, adoration. Los Angeles Times, 28 Nov. 2022 The best way to not transmit an infection from yourself to yourself is to simply wash your towels often. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 24 Nov. 2022 Then, while the paint is still soft from the stripper, try to wash away any remnants. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2022 And there is an amusing caper plot involving Kimberly’s maverick Aunt Debra (Bonnie Milligan), who hires the financially strapped show choir to wash checks. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 11 Nov. 2022 Both confessed to running over a girl and used Herring’s hose to wash their cars. John H. Tucker, Popular Mechanics, 10 Nov. 2022
Noun
This set laundered well in our evaluations, softening with each wash and stood out for their durability in our pilling resistance tests, even after our machine rubbed swatches together 1,000 times. Grace Wu, Good Housekeeping, 22 Nov. 2022 Even after a wash, the sheets felt soft and thick, with no loose threads or snags. Barbara Bellesi Zito, Peoplemag, 14 Nov. 2022 Cotton is durable, hypoallergenic and softens with every wash. Laura Daily, Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2022 These buttery soft sheets are made from Portuguese flannel—universally praised as some of the best flannel in the world—that’s machine-washable and gets softer with every wash. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 28 Oct. 2022 This bright set comes in a huge variety of colors and is made of 100% cotton that'll soften with each wash and wear. Danny Perez, Popular Mechanics, 27 Oct. 2022 Adored by TikTokers and Amazon reviewers alike, this moisturizing formula leaves tresses feeling hydrated and looking lustrous while reducing breakage and frizz with each wash. Anamaria Glavan, Allure, 12 Oct. 2022 This robe from Boll & Branch achieves just that, since it's made from 100% cotton and has a cozy waffle texture that gets softer after every wash. Samantha Lawyer, Woman's Day, 5 Oct. 2022 The goal is to get varying degrees of saturation with each wash. Megan Boettcher, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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

Adjective

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near wash

Cite this Entry

“Wash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wash. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

wash 1 of 3

verb

1
: to clean with water and usually a cleaning substance (as soap or detergent)
wash clothes
wash your hands
2
a
: to wet thoroughly with liquid
b
: to pass water over or through especially so as to carry off material from the surface or interior
3
: to flow along or splash or overflow against
waves wash the shore
4
: to pour or flow in a stream or current
the river washes against its banks
5
: to move or carry by the action of water
several trees were washed away by the flood
6
: to cover or smear lightly with a liquid (as whitewash or varnish)
7
: to run water over in order to separate out valuable matter
wash sand for gold
8
: to hold up under washing
this dress washes well
9
: to stand a test for truthfulness
that story won't wash
10
: to be worn away by washing
the heavy rain caused the bridge to wash out

wash

2 of 3

noun

1
: the act or process or an instance of washing
2
: articles to be or being washed
3
a
: a piece of ground washed by the sea or river
b
Western : the dry bed of a stream
4
: worthless especially liquid waste : refuse
5
a
: a thin coat of paint (as watercolor)
b
: a liquid used for coating a surface (as a wall) or for washing
6
: material carried along or deposited by running water
7
a
b
: a disturbance in the air produced by the passage of a wing or propeller

wash

3 of 3

adjective

: washable
wash fabric

Medical Definition

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

wash

2 of 2

noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on wash

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