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[bleech] /blitʃ/
verb (used with object)
to make whiter or lighter in color, as by exposure to sunlight or a chemical agent; remove the color from.
Photography. to convert (the silver image of a negative or print) to a silver halide, either to remove the image or to change its tone.
verb (used without object)
to become whiter or lighter in color.
a bleaching agent.
degree of paleness achieved in bleaching.
an act of bleaching.
Origin of bleach
before 1050; Middle English blechen, Old English blǣcean, derivative of blāc pale; cognate with Old Norse bleikja, Old High German bleichēn
Related forms
bleachable, adjective
bleachability, noun
half-bleached, adjective
nonbleach, noun
overbleach, verb
rebleach, verb
semibleached, adjective
unbleached, adjective
unbleaching, adjective
1. See whiten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unbleached
Historical Examples
  • He was barefoot, but he wore a clean shirt of unbleached cotton, open at the neck.

    O Pioneers! Willa Cather
  • For this the pattern is cut from the whole piece and appliquéd on unbleached cotton.


    Marie D. Webster
  • If tape is used it should be unbleached, such as the sailmakers use.

  • The best sea-stockings are those of substantial, unbleached cotton.

  • The thread with which books are sewn is usually made of linen, unbleached.

  • We may later make a pair of pillowcases from this unbleached muslin.

    Clothing and Health Helen Kinne
  • The Holder: Cut from the unbleached muslin two circular pieces.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • A clumsy band and button fastened her unbleached night-gown about the throat.

    Summer Edith Wharton
  • Marion held her tongue, and snipped away at her unbleached calico.

    Vera Nevill Mrs. H. Lovett Cameron
  • Here the transcendent genius of Bud again asserted itself—she invented a rat; a rat made out of an unbleached almond.

    The Art of Amusing Frank Bellew
British Dictionary definitions for unbleached


not having been made or become white or lighter through exposure to sunlight or by the action of chemical agents, etc


to make or become white or colourless, as by exposure to sunlight, by the action of chemical agents, etc
a bleaching agent
the degree of whiteness resulting from bleaching
the act of bleaching
Derived Forms
bleachable, adjective
bleacher, noun
Word Origin
Old English blǣcan; related to Old Norse bleikja, Old High German bleih pale
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 unbleached



Old English blæcan "bleach, whiten," from Proto-Germanic *blaikjan "to make white" (cf. Old Saxon blek, Old Norse bleikr, Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich "pale;" Old Norse bleikja, Dutch bleken, German bleichen "to bleach"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (cf. Sanskrit bhrajate "shines;" Greek phlegein "to burn;" Latin flamma "flame," fulmen "lightning," fulgere "to shine, flash," flagrare "to burn;" Old Church Slavonic belu "white;" Lithuanian balnas "pale").

The same root probably produced black; perhaps because both black and white are colorless, or because both are associated with burning. Cf. Old English scimian, related to the source of shine (n.), meaning both "to shine" and "to dim, grow dusky, grow dark." Related: Bleached; bleaching.



"act of bleaching," 1887; "a bleaching agent," 1898, probably directly from bleach (v.). The Old English noun blæce meant "leprosy;" Late Old English also had blæco "paleness," and Middle English had blech "whitening or bleaching agent."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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unbleached in Science
A chemical agent used to whiten or remove color from textiles, paper, food, and other substances and materials. Chlorine, sodium hypochlorite, and hydrogen peroxide are bleaches. Bleaches remove color by oxidation or reduction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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