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[lawn-der, lahn-] /ˈlɔn dər, ˈlɑn-/
verb (used with object)
to wash (clothes, linens, etc.).
to wash and iron (clothes).
  1. to disguise the source of (illegal or secret funds or profits), usually by transmittal through a foreign bank or a complex network of intermediaries.
  2. to disguise the true nature of (a transaction, operation, or the like) by routing money or goods through one or more intermediaries.
to remove embarrassing or unpleasant characteristics or elements from in order to make more acceptable:
He'll have to launder his image if he wants to run for office.
verb (used without object)
to wash laundry.
to undergo washing and ironing:
The shirt didn't launder well.
(in ore dressing) a passage carrying products of intermediate grade and residue in water suspension.
Metallurgy. a channel for conveying molten steel to a ladle.
Origin of launder
1300-50; 1970-75 for def 3; Middle English: launderer, syncopated variant of lavandere, lavendere washer of linen < Middle French lavandier(e) < Medieval Latin lavandārius (masculine), lavandāria (feminine), equivalent to Latin lavand- (gerund stem of lavāre to wash) + -ārius, -āria -ary; see -er2)
Related forms
launderable, adjective
launderability, noun
launderer, noun
relaunder, verb (used with object)
unlaundered, adjective
well-laundered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for launder


to wash, sometimes starch, and often also iron (clothes, linen, etc)
(intransitive) to be capable of being laundered without shrinking, fading, etc
(transitive) to process (something acquired illegally) to make it appear respectable, esp to process illegally acquired funds through a legitimate business or to send them to a foreign bank for subsequent transfer to a home bank
a water trough, esp one used for washing ore in mining
Derived Forms
launderer, noun
Word Origin
C14 (n, meaning: a person who washes linen): changed from lavender washerwoman, from Old French lavandiere, ultimately from Latin lavāre to wash
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 launder

1660s, "to wash linen," from noun launder "one who washes" (especially linen), mid-15c., a contraction of lavender, from Old French lavandier "washer, launderer," from Medieval Latin lavandaria "a washer," ultimately from Latin lavare "to wash" (see lave). Criminal banking sense first recorded 1961, from notion of making dirty money seem clean; brought to widespread use during U.S. Watergate scandal, 1973. Related: Laundered; laundering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for launder



To transfer or convert funds so that illegal or dubious receipts are made to appear legitimate: The account money that had been ''laundered'' by being siphoned from this country into Mexico and returned under an alias (1961+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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