whit·​en ˈ(h)wī-tᵊn How to pronounce whiten (audio)
whitened; whitening ˈ(h)wīt-niŋ How to pronounce whiten (audio)

transitive verb

: to make white or whiter
snow whitened the hills

intransitive verb

: to become white or whiter

Examples of whiten in a Sentence

His hair whitened as he aged. Bleach will whiten the linens. The new toothpaste whitens teeth.
Recent Examples on the Web Debra was preoccupied with Jennette's appearance, encouraging her to count calories, whiten her teeth and tint her eyelashes starting at 10 years old. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 21 Mar. 2024 Pros: More effective than one-step whitening toothpastes. Macaela MacKenzie, Glamour, 29 Feb. 2024 There is no whitening treatment that will give you permanent results. USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2024 Select: Online Shopping, Simplified Does at-home teeth whitening actually work? Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 2 Feb. 2024 Other options are available to whiten your teeth like whitening strips, gels, or trays. Dr. Roshini Raj, Health, 3 Dec. 2023 How to whiten my teeth There are two ways to go about whitening. USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2024 What are the differences between in-office whitening and over-the-counter whitening treatments? Sarah Han, Allure, 28 Dec. 2023 Many shoppers also picked up the second-generation AirPods Pro. Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects Get nearly a month's supply of teeth whitening with this Crest Whitestrips kit, which includes 44 strips and two one-hour treatments. Toni Sutton, Peoplemag, 29 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whiten.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English whitenen, from white white entry 1 + -nen -en entry 2

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of whiten was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near whiten

Cite this Entry

“Whiten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiten. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


whit·​en ˈhwīt-ᵊn How to pronounce whiten (audio)
whitened; whitening -ᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce whiten (audio)
: to make or become white or whiter

More from Merriam-Webster on whiten

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