white·wash | \ˈhwīt-ˌwȯsh, ˈwīt-, -ˌwäsh\
whitewashed; whitewashing; whitewashes

Definition of whitewash 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to whiten with whitewash

2a : to gloss over or cover up (such as vices or crimes) refused to whitewash the scandal

b : to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data

3 : to hold (an opponent) scoreless in a game or contest



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


whitewasher noun

Examples of whitewash in a Sentence


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

But by focusing so heavily on bitter diner patrons, the press whitewashed what are in fact diverse areas of the country, while reinforcing the notion that economically anxious whites drove the Trump train to victory. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Myth of Trump’s Populist Revolt," 18 May 2018 One of the things that President Trump and his allies bring up is that at some point, her staff smashed Blackberries, also whitewashed the server? Time Staff, Time, "Read the Full Transcript From James Comey's ABC Interview," 17 Apr. 2018 Earlier: Will whitewashing anger haunt live-action 'Ghost in the Shell'? Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Scarlett Johansson faces casting backlash, this time for playing a transgender man," 4 July 2018 The other two cases looked at Skadden Arps, which wrote a report with Mr. Manafort’s participation that was widely seen as whitewashing the politically motivated arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Yanukovych’s principal rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko. New York Times, "Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation," 2 May 2018 Critics called it another example of Hollywood’s long history of whitewashing Asian characters with Caucasian actors. Jake Coyle, BostonGlobe.com, "Scarlett Johansson’s plans to play trans man spurs backlash," 5 July 2018 Chu is set to direct the film and took to Twitter on Wednesday confirming the project and also vowing to not let Hollywood whitewash the story. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Crazy Rich Asians' Director Eyes Thai Cave Rescue Movie," 12 July 2018 In an industry that regularly whitewashes Black characters, explicit examples of code-switching splash viewers in the face with a dose of reality. refinery29.com, "Sorry To Bother You," 10 July 2018 Natalie, along with co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh were reportedly among those characters that the movie had whitewashed. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Natalie Portman Says She Originally Didn’t Know Her “Annihilation” Role Was Whitewashed," 15 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 But the Vice President of the British Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, called it a whitewash. James Masters, CNN, "The UK's biggest left wing party is mired in an antisemitism crisis," 28 Mar. 2018 Critics say that could allow a whitewash of history. Washington Post, "Far-right, even racist views go mainstream in Central Europe," 3 Apr. 2018 In particular, American officials were worried that the Mexicans would try to trumpet the involvement of the United States to lend an appearance of credibility to a whitewash, the officials said. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "Mexico Spyware Inquiry Bogs Down. Skeptics Aren’t Surprised.," 20 Feb. 2018 To counter a 44-28 rebounding advantage for Xavier — and a 22-0 whitewash in second-chance points — Providence had 11 steals, nine blocks and a 19-6 edge in points off turnovers. USA TODAY, "Providence upsets No. 5 Xavier 81-72," 6 Jan. 2018 This was a whitewash in a medium game, the Buckeyes outcoached from start to finish. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com, "Is Urban Meyer losing his edge? Doug Lesmerises," 4 Nov. 2017

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


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for whitewash

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whitewash

The first known use of whitewash was in 1591

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More Definitions for whitewash



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)

: to defeat (an opponent) easily by winning every game, point, etc.



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

: a white liquid mixture used for making surfaces (such as walls or fences) whiter

: a planned effort to hide a dishonest, immoral, or illegal act or situation

: a defeat in a game or contest in which the loser does not score any points


white·wash | \ˈhwīt-ˌwȯsh, 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.



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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Comments on whitewash

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a state of commotion or excitement

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