• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to make whiter or lighter in color, as by exposure to sunlight or a chemical agent; remove the color from.
  2. 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.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become whiter or lighter in color.
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  1. a bleaching agent.
  2. degree of paleness achieved in bleaching.
  3. an act of bleaching.
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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 formsbleach·a·ble, adjectivebleach·a·bil·i·ty, nounhalf-bleached, adjectivenon·bleach, nouno·ver·bleach, verbre·bleach, verbsem·i·bleached, adjectiveun·bleached, adjectiveun·bleach·ing, adjective

Synonyms for bleach

1. See whiten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bleached

lighten, blanch, etiolate, blench, fade, achromatize, decolorize, peroxide, decolor

Examples from the Web for bleached

Contemporary Examples of bleached

Historical Examples of bleached

  • He saw an infant's fleshless bones the elements had bleached!

  • His hair was bleached and his cheeks bronzed by the sun and the wind.

  • Cress, Romaine, or bleached chicory may be used in place of lettuce.


    Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer

  • The Caucassian of today is now believed by men of science to be only a bleached negro.

    The Bondwoman

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • Its sand-banks might have been made of bleached bones, they looked so gray and dead.

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall

British Dictionary definitions for bleached


  1. to make or become white or colourless, as by exposure to sunlight, by the action of chemical agents, etc
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  1. a bleaching agent
  2. the degree of whiteness resulting from bleaching
  3. the act of bleaching
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Derived Formsbleachable, adjectivebleacher, noun

Word Origin for bleach

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

Word Origin and History for bleached



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.

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"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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bleached in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.