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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The moon will be nearly full in the wee hours of Wednesday, and the abundance of lunar light is going to whitewash the sky, camouflaging all but the brighter meteors. Mike Lynch, Twin Cities, "Sky Watch: Don’t wait for its peak to look for the Perseid meteor shower," 11 Aug. 2019 The Jewish infighting has further stalled the project, in a country where critics say a right-wing government seeks to whitewash Holocaust-era collaboration. Cnaan Liphshiz, sun-sentinel.com, "In Eastern Europe, Holocaust museums are missing from key historical sites," 30 July 2019 Peter designed, on his own, a windowless, whitewashed church that rose near the shores of Searles Lake, the dry expanse from where Trona mined borax, ash and other minerals. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "Trona Catholics kept the faith as their town declined. Then, two earthquakes shook their ‘gem in the desert’," 5 Aug. 2019 This is, in fact, another act of whitewashing (no surprises there). Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Is NiteCap Creator Who Claims She Invented The Silk Bonnet Guilty Of Whitewashing ?," 24 July 2019 Audiences there have become increasingly sensitive to, and critical of, Hollywood productions whitewashing Asian storylines, and using Asian characters to deliver Western values. Echo Huang, Quartzy, "Disney’s “Mulan” is not the feminist Mulan Chinese girls recognize," 10 July 2019 The massive birds urinate and defecate all over the place, often whitewashing the entire sidewalk and causing significant property damage, including breaking off large branches that crash into cars and homes. John Spina, The Denver Post, "Longmont residents sick of nasty, vomiting turkey vultures," 21 June 2019 Some critics were quick to lambast Dinklage for whitewashing the role arguing that HBO should have sought out a Filipino actor with dwarfism. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Peter Dinklage addresses whitewashing controversy in new film 'My Dinner with Hervé': 'He was French'," 30 Aug. 2018 Kevin Kwan, the author of the original novel, optioned the movie rights for $1 so that Hollywood wouldn't whitewash the book. Emily Wang, Teen Vogue, "Chrissy Teigen Explained Why It Was So Important for Her Daughter Luna to See "Crazy Rich Asians"," 27 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of whitewash

Verb

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1678, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for whitewash

whitewash

verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on whitewash

What made you want to look up whitewash? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!