whitewash

1 of 2

verb

white·​wash ˈ(h)wīt-ˌwȯsh How to pronounce whitewash (audio)
-ˌwäsh
whitewashed; whitewashing; whitewashes

transitive verb

1
: to whiten with whitewash
a freshly whitewashed wall
a row of whitewashed cottages
"Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"Mark Twain
2
a
: to gloss over or cover up (something, such as a record of criminal behavior)
refused to whitewash the scandal
In the years following the Nuremberg trials, there was an increasingly concerted effort to whitewash the record of the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of the Third Reich.Rob Zacny
b
: to exonerate (someone) by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data
… seemed to be trying to tell the full story without trying to whitewash the dictator or conceal his atrocities.Ronald Hingley
3
informal : to hold (an opponent) scoreless in a game or contest
He stopped 38 shots to shut out the Oilers on Feb. 9; 39 in blanking the Rangers on Nov. 12; and 45 in whitewashing the Avalanche on Oct. 30.Austin Murphy
4
: to alter (something) in a way that favors, features, or caters to white people: such as
a
: to portray (the past) in a way that increases the prominence, relevance, or impact of white people and minimizes or misrepresents that of nonwhite people
… touches obliquely on Jones' assertion that the mayor and other white city leaders want to "whitewash" the telling of our nation's civil rights struggles.Jeff Gauger
b
: to alter (an original story) by casting a white performer in a role based on a nonwhite person or fictional character
It was important to Jenny Han, author of the YA books To All the Boys I've Loved Before, that the film adaption would keep one key detail: that the lead character, Lara Jean, was Asian-American. In a new essay …, Han revealed that nearly every production company interested in adapting her best-selling book into a movie asked to whitewash it.Hunter Harris
The Hollywood screenwriter Max Landis has denied defending the casting of Scarlett Johansson in a "whitewashed" remake of the classic Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell.Ben Child
whitewasher noun
whitewashing noun
a wall that requires whitewashing
There shall be no whitewashing of Lizzie Eustace. She was abominable. Anthony Trollope
Including his Game 2 whitewashing of the A's, he'd allowed just three earned runs in his last 92 2/3 innings … Peter Gammons
In so many parts of the world, culture rooted in black communities has at one point or another faced attempts at whitewashing: Just look at all the buttoned-up white jazz ensembles that emerged across the United States in the early 20th century. Sebastian Modak

whitewash

2 of 2

noun

1
: a liquid composition for whitening a surface: such as
a
: a preparation for whitening the skin
b
: a composition (as of lime and water or whiting, size, and water) for whitening structural surfaces
2
: an act or instance of glossing over or of exonerating
3
: a defeat in a contest in which the loser fails to score

Examples of whitewash in a Sentence

Verb a book that tries to whitewash the country's past refused to whitewash the governor's chronic disregard for the truth
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The estate’s whitewashed, tufa-stone home had been transformed into a 24-room boutique hotel, where a complimentary shuttle ushered guests to the beach. Kaitlin Menza, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Feb. 2024 The last two are cynical rationalizations concocted long ago by Southern propagandists to whitewash unpleasant truth. Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, Sun Sentinel, 2 Jan. 2024 The filming got off to a troubled start, as the studio technicians went out on strike, having somehow concluded that the program’s intent was to whitewash Pétain. Robert O. Paxton, Harper's Magazine, 17 Dec. 2023 Denying the suffering of the Palestinian people of Gaza and whitewashing Israel’s active efforts to starve the civilian population is more than just downright cruel. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 10 Jan. 2024 His campaign sees Republicans stripping away women’s reproductive rights, whitewashing history lessons in schools and refusing to stand up to extremists that encourage political violence. TIME, 5 Jan. 2024 In the opening round, Littler whitewashed former world champion Christian Kist in a shocking upset. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 4 Jan. 2024 Critics accused Haley of refusing to mention slavery, saying her description of the Civil War is whitewashing U.S. history. Abby Cruz, ABC News, 27 Dec. 2023 The refined façade features whitewashed brick and Hope Bay limestone sourced from Ontario, which adds to the home’s crisply modern, almost monastic aesthetic. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 14 Dec. 2023
Noun
Even the ubiquitous gift registry, with its transparent whitewash, is giving way to the outright demand for money. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2024 Griggs has photos of whitewash splashing halfway up the first row of windows. Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times, 22 Aug. 2023 The normalization of Florida’s slavery whitewash has been abetted by a supine press. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2023 The curriculum that Florida put forward was not a whitewash. Nbc Universal, NBC News, 30 July 2023 Limewash, a breathable and porous coating, adds texture and patina to brick, while whitewash is a slightly more opaque option. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Aug. 2023 Though the state this week approved its own African American history standards that officials have lauded as the anti-woke approach to teaching about Black experiences in the United States, advocates say the standards whitewash or gloss over key aspects of that story. Ana Goñi-Lessan, USA TODAY, 21 July 2023 Mittleman finished them with a simple whitewash treatment to brighten and preserve them. Elizabeth Sweet, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 June 2023 John Kirby’s pre-holiday whitewash continues a pattern of Biden hiding behind his handlers. John Ullyot, National Review, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

Verb

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of whitewash was in 1591

Dictionary Entries Near whitewash

Cite this Entry

“Whitewash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whitewash. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

whitewash

1 of 2 verb
white·​wash ˈhwīt-ˌwȯsh How to pronounce whitewash (audio)
-ˌwäsh,
ˈwīt-
1
: to whiten with whitewash
2
a
: to explain away or cover up
refused to whitewash the scandal
b
: to clear of a charge of wrongdoing by offering excuses, hiding facts, or conducting a careless investigation
accused the city council of whitewashing the mayor
3
: to prevent an opponent in a game or contest from scoring
whitewasher noun

whitewash

2 of 2 noun
1
: a mixture (as of lime and water) for whitening a surface
2
: a clearing or covering up of wrongdoing

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