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[klenz] /klɛnz/
verb (used with object), cleansed, cleansing.
to make clean.
to remove by or as if by cleaning:
to cleanse sin from the soul.
verb (used without object), cleansed, cleansing.
to become clean.
Origin of cleanse
before 900; Middle English clensen, Old English clǣnsian, equivalent to clǣne clean + -si- v. suffix + -an infinitive suffix
Related forms
cleansable, adjective
recleanse, verb (used with object), recleansed, recleansing.
uncleansable, adjective
uncleansed, adjective
well-cleansed, adjective
Can be confused
clean, cleanse (see synonym study at clean)
Synonym Study
1. See clean. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cleansing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For a moment there were other duties to be attended to, a clearance and cleansing.

  • There in front of him, heaving and tumbling, was the sea: a miracle of healing and cleansing.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
  • It seemed to her, too, that she would be helping him by cleansing him a little.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • But the old joy, the sense of purity and cleansing, did not come.

  • She should have left on his face the warm touch of hers and the cleansing of her tears.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
British Dictionary definitions for cleansing


verb (transitive)
to remove dirt, filth, etc, from
to remove guilt from
to remove a group of people from (an area) by means of ethnic cleansing
Derived Forms
cleansable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English clǣnsian; related to Middle Low German klēnsen; see clean
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cleansing

Old English clænsunge "cleansing, purifying, castigation; chastity, purity," verbal noun from the root of cleanse. As a present participle adjective, attested from c.1300.



Old English clænsian "to cleanse, purge, purify, chasten, justify," from West Germanic *klainson, from *klainoz (see clean (adj.)). Despite its modern spelling (16c.), it retains its Middle English pronunciation. Related: Cleansed; cleansing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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