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[hwahyt-wosh, -wawsh, wahyt-] /ˈʰwaɪtˌwɒʃ, -ˌwɔʃ, ˈwaɪt-/
a composition, as of lime and water or of whiting, size, and water, used for whitening walls, woodwork, etc.
anything, as deceptive words or actions, used to cover up or gloss over faults, errors, or wrongdoings, or absolve a wrongdoer from blame.
Sports Informal. a defeat in which the loser fails to score.
verb (used with object)
to whiten with whitewash.
to cover up or gloss over the faults or errors of; absolve from blame.
Sports Informal. to defeat by keeping the opponent from scoring:
The home team whitewashed the visitors eight to nothing.
Origin of whitewash
First recorded in 1585-95; white + wash
Related forms
whitewasher, noun
unwhitewashed, adjective
5. excuse, vindicate, exonerate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whitewash
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You know your uncle's reputation—the past one, I mean, not the whitewash.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • At all events, its colour remained unimpaired by paint or whitewash.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • They are mere ghosts, their skeletons wrapped in a shroud of whitewash.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Alexander Van Millingen
  • Mrs. Rabbit wanted to know what he meant by carrying off some of her whitewash.

    Sandman's Goodnight Stories

    Abbie Phillips Walker
  • And Mr. Crow said: "The trouble about whitewash is that it's too hard to keep it on."

    Hollow Tree Nights and Days Albert Bigelow Paine
British Dictionary definitions for whitewash


a substance used for whitening walls and other surfaces, consisting of a suspension of lime or whiting in water, often with other substances, such as size, added
(informal) deceptive or specious words or actions intended to conceal defects, gloss over failings, etc
(informal) a defeat in a sporting contest in which the loser is beaten in every match, game, etc in a series: they face the prospect of a whitewash in the five-test series
verb (transitive)
to cover or whiten with whitewash
(informal) to conceal, gloss over, or suppress
(informal) to defeat (an opponent or opposing team) by winning every match in a series
Derived Forms
whitewasher, noun
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 whitewash

1590s, "to wash a building surface with white liquid," from white + wash. Figurative sense of "to cover up, conceal" is attested from 1762. Related: Whitewashed; whitewashing. The noun is recorded from 1690s.

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



: Several Republican senators reported that the report was a ''whitewash'' of McCarthy's charges


  1. To win decisively, esp not permitting the opponent to score; skunk (1851+)
  2. To make something unsavory, damaging, etc, seem to be legitimate and acceptable, usually by falsification or concealment; decontaminate someone's actions or reputation (1762+)
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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