a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, especially through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques.
any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, especially one based on repetition or confusion: brainwashing by TV commercials.
an instance of subjecting or being subjected to such techniques: efforts to halt the brainwashing of captive audiences.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use brainwashing in a sentence
The term “brainwashing” dates to 1950, when a journalist and former OSS member named Edward Hunter wrote an article explaining why, in the waning days of the Korean War, American POWs defected to Korea and China.Drawing a line from Cold War brainwashing to the misinformation age | Dina Temple-Raston | October 8, 2021 | Washington Post
Over time, this brainwashing eats away at the psyche of youth as they grow and leads to the high rates of mental health issues in LGBTQ youth.Opinion | LGBTQ youth face mental health challenges amid pandemic | Maeve Korengold | June 10, 2021 | Washington Blade
So when we were thinking of interesting things that Chip could do to Dory, we started to look at people like Elizabeth Smart or Patty Hearst—and how brainwashing is a very real thing that’s been employed for thousands of years.'Death is a Turning Point': Search Party's Creators Discuss Season 4 and the Shocking Finale Twist | Andrew R. Chow | January 28, 2021 | Time
The gun control lobby engages in emotional brainwashing to further its attempts at disarming the American people.
“Immediately the brainwashing began,” Egan told The Daily Beast.‘I Considered Suicide,’ Alleged Sex Abuse Victim of Bryan Singer Tells The Daily Beast | Tim Teeman | April 18, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
“I think of a cult as brainwashing followers in some kind of weird philosophy,” he wrote in an email.
Why comics are diversifying—and what their creators say to groups accusing them of 'brainwashing' kids.DC Comics’ New Gay Green Lantern & Marvel’s First Same-Sex Marriage | Melissa Leon | June 1, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
This would have been the best way of demystifying this man, debunking his cause and de-brainwashing his followers.
The Lhari don't watch me too closely—they figure that anything I do they'll catch in the brainwashing.The Colors of Space | Marion Zimmer Bradley
They should have done a better job of brainwashing, if they expected him to skulk in like a scared rabbit!The Colors of Space | Marion Zimmer Bradley
The world was going to be run by telepaths, psychosis eliminated by brainwashing, intellect developed by hypnotic suggestion.This Crowded Earth | Robert Bloch
But the targets of this brainwashing will do well to look to their Central European neighbours for an antidote.After the Rain | Sam Vaknin
The voice chuckled, then said, "I haven't tried brainwashing yet."The Unnecessary Man | Gordon Randall Garrett
Cultural definitions for brainwashing
Indoctrination that forces people to abandon their beliefs in favor of another set of beliefs. Usually associated with military and political interrogation and religious conversion, brainwashing attempts, through prolonged stress, to break down an individual's physical and mental defenses. Brainwashing techniques range from vocal persuasion and threats to punishment, physical deprivation, mind-altering drugs, and severe physical torture.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.