whitewash

verb
white·​wash | \ ˈhwīt-ˌwȯsh How to pronounce whitewash (audio) , ˈwīt-, -ˌwäsh\
whitewashed; whitewashing; whitewashes

Definition of whitewash

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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
2a : 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

whitewash

noun

Definition of whitewash (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from whitewash

Verb

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

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 Don’t get the idea, however, that the series whitewashes the prejudices of some country fans and radio stations. Jeanne Jakle, ExpressNews.com, "Love and loss at the heart of Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’," 10 Sep. 2019 Another important element of the story is that, as of today, the mainstream media have whitewashed Omar and Tlaib’s vile associations. David French, National Review, "Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Partnered with Vicious Anti-Semites to Plan Their Trip to Israel," 16 Aug. 2019 When the piece closes on July 24, the walls will be whitewashed again for the next exhibition. Roger Catlin, Smithsonian, "This Performance Art Piece Is Being Served Up with Tasty, Warm Bowls of Curry," 13 June 2019 In the multiple Oscar-winning 1961 movie, Maria and Bernado were both played by white actors (Natalie Wood and George Chakiris), a decision which is now often cited as an example of Hollywood whitewashing. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Steven Spielberg Is Remaking West Side Story—​And It Won't Be Whitewashed," 26 Jan. 2018 Since the character was Japanese in the source material, Johansson was criticized for whitewashing the role. Tara Edwards, refinery29.com, "Scarlett Johansson Sparks Backlash By Saying She’s Allowed To Play Anything — Even A Tree," 14 July 2019 Three hundred feet to the west is West Brother, a low rocky isle whitewashed with bird poop where the harbor seals like to hang. Sarah Feldberg, SFChronicle.com, "Remember that viral lighthouse job? They got it," 12 Sep. 2019 From our American history classes to the world of arts and entertainment, we are taught a version of black history that has been condensed and whitewashed. Anjana Pawa, Teen Vogue, "If You Think Taylor Swift Is the Only Artist Making Protest Songs, You’re Just Not Listening," 10 Sep. 2019 The backstory of country music has always been so actually utterly whitewashed. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Meet Yola, the Singer-Songwriter Giving Country a Soulful Spin," 4 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun City got off to the dream start on the opening weekend of the season, scoring five away from home in a whitewash against former manager Manuel Pellegrini's West Ham. SI.com, "Man City vs Tottenham Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Buy Tickets, Kick Off Time & Team News," 15 Aug. 2019 After that, painting trees with a whitewash has a far greater impact on protecting from sunlight and also low temperatures than wrapping or piling soil around the trunks, which some folks still recommend. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "Trees can get sunburned and overheated, too. Here's how to protect them," 27 Aug. 2019 The announcement drew condemnations from Palestinians and human rights advocates, who accused the military of a whitewash. Josef Federman, Fox News, "Israel: No criminal action in deadly Gaza 2014 war incident," 15 Aug. 2018 An investigation commissioned by Democratic leaders concluded that her claims couldn’t be substantiated, though Wardlow has called that a whitewash, noting that the attorney who prepared the report has party connections through her firm. Steve Karnowski, The Seattle Times, "Embattled Ellison launches counterattack on GOP opponent," 25 Oct. 2018 Yet the kingdom has been a respected member of the international community and surely understands a whitewash would severely damage its standing. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Lee A. Casey, WSJ, "Saudi Probe Is Not a Job For the U.N.," 23 Oct. 2018 There was no effort to rewrite, or whitewash, what happened. Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post, "Before Justify, there was Eclipse and a horse-racing war between North and South," 19 May 2018 Sensing, quite sensibly, that an N.F.L. whitewash was on its way, one of his victims — a former Panthers employee who remains unnamed — spoke out with a lengthy piece in April in Sports Illustrated. Michael Powell, New York Times, "A Toothless Investigation Slaps Jerry Richardson on the Wrist," 28 June 2018 Although it was derided as a whitewash by some, John Mann, a Labour MP who leads the all-party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, welcomed the report. The Economist, "Labour’s problem with anti-Semitism," 15 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whitewash.' 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 whitewash

Verb

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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More Definitions for whitewash

whitewash

verb
How to pronounce whitewash (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of whitewash

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make (something) whiter by painting it with whitewash
: to prevent people from learning the truth about (something bad, such as a dishonest, immoral, or illegal act or situation)
chiefly British : to defeat (an opponent) easily by winning every game, point, etc.

whitewash

noun

English Language Learners Definition of whitewash (Entry 2 of 2)

: a white liquid mixture used for making surfaces (such as walls or fences) whiter
disapproving : a planned effort to hide a dishonest, immoral, or illegal act or situation
chiefly British : a defeat in a game or contest in which the loser does not score any points

whitewash

verb
white·​wash | \ ˈhwīt-ˌwȯsh How to pronounce whitewash (audio) , ˈwīt-, -ˌwäsh\
whitewashed; whitewashing

Kids Definition of whitewash

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cover with a mixture that whitens
2 : to try to hide the wrongdoing of The company didn't try to whitewash their actions.

whitewash

noun

Kids Definition of whitewash (Entry 2 of 2)

: a mixture (as of lime and water) for making a surface (as a wall) white

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