\ ˈwȯsh How to pronounce wash (audio) , ˈwäsh, chiefly Midland also ˈwȯrsh How to pronounce wash (audio) or ˈwärsh How to pronounce wash (audio) \
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 This part of the day, at least, makes sense: being outside and not having too many dishes to wash and eating foods that convey unfussy joy. Tamar Adler, The New Yorker, "Hear Me Out: Hot-Dog Salad," 4 Aug. 2020 Inspectors also found staff members who did not use proper protective equipment, wash their hands or separate sick patients from healthy ones. Washington Post, "Nursing home companies accused of misusing federal money received hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic relief," 4 Aug. 2020 For so long, the fields and courts and rinks of play have offered a particular kind of grace note, a place to wash off the grime of daily life, if only for a few hours. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "COVID-19 challenging how every sports league operates. And challenging us as fans, too," 1 Aug. 2020 Those machines are now at The Star to wash the close to 700 pounds of laundry a day the equipment staff does during training camp. David Moore, Dallas News, "Plexiglass, trackers and high-tech laundry: From Jerry Jones on down, rigorous COVID-19 protocols await Cowboys," 1 Aug. 2020 Wash hands and surfaces often, and wash fruits and vegetables before peeling, cutting and eating. Keep food that remains uncooked like fresh fruit, salads and deli meat separate from raw meat. Helena Wegner, The Arizona Republic, "14 Arizonans infected in national salmonella outbreak tied to red onions," 1 Aug. 2020 In the classrooms, teachers are also required to wear face coverings and sanitize or wash their hands frequently. USA TODAY, "NYC taxis, Fisher Cats, casinos: News from around our 50 states," 31 July 2020 For barbers, the outdoor service would just look like a dry haircut — the stylist could use scissors or an electric razor — and then just send the client home to take a shower and wash the hair off their neck. Megan Decker, refinery29.com, "Is It Actually Safer To Get A Haircut Outside?," 30 July 2020 Just remember to properly sanitize and wash hands before and after playing. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "Everything you need to throw a socially distanced kids’ birthday party," 30 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All Cleanser is a two-in-one wash that breaks down and removes makeup, along with dirt and oil. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "Road Test: I Tried Rihanna's New Skin-Care Line, Fenty Skin," 4 Aug. 2020 Instead of using a hot wash cycle, Clarke prefers to kill any germs by using the hottest temperature on her dryer. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Is It Safe To Thrift Shop Amid The Pandemic?," 31 July 2020 If your hotel hasn't removed glasses, give them a wash with soap and hot water. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "Should You Sanitize Your Hotel Room?," 27 July 2020 In the morning, turn on the dishwasher and run a wash cycle with hot water. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Clean Your Dishwasher," 5 July 2020 In fact, these days I'm thrilled to say my skincare routine consists simply of a face wash, moisturizer, and Ilia's supernatural skin-imparting serum. Mai Morsch, Vogue, "Feels Like a Steal: This 3-in-1 Tinted Serum Replaced My Entire Skincare Routine," 10 July 2020 Has your hair started to set into dreadlocks for lack of a thorough salon wash and blow dry? Norma Young, Quartz, "South African women are forging new fashion frontiers by embracing their heritage," 9 July 2020 The muted earth tones are so soothing to look at, and the fabric tends to get softer with every wash. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "26 Cute Etsy Face Masks to Shop Right Now," 9 July 2020 If your clothes, sheets and towels don’t come out of the wash clean, these three tips might address the problem: Don’t overload the washing machine. Jolie Kerr, CNN Underscored, "What is laundry stripping, TikTok’s new favorite way to clean?," 7 July 2020 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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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

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wash. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for wash


How to pronounce Wash (audio) How to pronounce Wash (audio) How to pronounce Wash (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on wash

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wash

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wash

Spanish Central: Translation of wash

Nglish: Translation of wash for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wash for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wash

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