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[wosh-out, wawsh-] /ˈwɒʃˌaʊt, ˈwɔʃ-/
a washing out of earth, gravel, etc., by water, as from an embankment or a roadway by heavy rain or by a flash flood.
the hole, break, or erosion produced by such a washing out.
Also, wash-out. Aeronautics. a warp in an airfoil that gives a decrease in the angle of attack toward the tip.
Compare washin.
Informal. an utter failure.
Informal. a person who has failed a course of training or study:
air force washouts.
Origin of washout
First recorded in 1870-75; noun use of verb phrase wash out Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for washout
Historical Examples
  • Just for an instant the word “washout” flashed through his mind.

    The Golden Woman Ridgwell Cullum
  • He knew the spring rains with their awesome powers of washout and flood.

    The Heart of Unaga Ridgwell Cullum
  • Then we fastened a tin bucket to a pole and fished the washout.

  • When the washout bowl was introduced it was considered perfection.

    Elements of Plumbing Samuel Dibble
  • With one last look at the washout, they turned and began climbing the grade.

    Secrets of the Andes

    James H. Foster
  • But Gladys knew the reason now, for she had seen the washout.

    The Campfire Girls Go Motoring Hildegard G. Frey
  • One day one of the students came up to him for washout check.

    Test Pilot David Goodger (
  • This filling and repairing looks like the washout might have been true.

    The Virginian Owen Wister
  • An attack that fails is a "washout," for not all attacks succeed.

    My Second Year of the War Frederick Palmer
  • I dare say it'll be a washout, but houses are scarce nowadays.

    The Secret Adversary Agatha Christie
Word Origin and History for washout

"disappointing failure," 1902, from verbal phrase wash out "obliterate, cancel," attested from 1570s, hence colloquial sense of "to call off (an event) due to bad weather, etc."

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



  1. A failure; a total fiasco; flop: I'm afraid our big birthday bash was a washout
  2. A student pilot or aviation cadet who fails to complete the course and become a qualified pilot: the major cause for the large number of ''washouts''

[WWI British military; origin unknown; perhaps because the student's name was washed or scrubbed from the roster]

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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