See more synonyms for cleanse on
verb (used without object), cleansed, cleans·ing.
  1. to become clean.

Origin of cleanse

before 900; Middle English clensen, Old English clǣnsian, equivalent to clǣne clean + -si- v. suffix + -an infinitive suffix
Related formscleans·a·ble, adjectivere·cleanse, verb (used with object), re·cleansed, re·cleans·ing.un·cleans·a·ble, adjectiveun·cleansed, adjectivewell-cleansed, adjective
Can be confusedclean cleanse (see synonym study at clean)

Synonym study

1. See clean. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cleansing

Contemporary Examples of cleansing

Historical Examples of cleansing

  • For a moment there were other duties to be attended to, a clearance and cleansing.

  • There in front of him, heaving and tumbling, was the sea: a miracle of healing and cleansing.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • It seemed to her, too, that she would be helping him by cleansing him a little.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • But the old joy, the sense of purity and cleansing, did not come.

  • She should have left on his face the warm touch of hers and the cleansing of her tears.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for cleansing


verb (tr)
  1. to remove dirt, filth, etc, from
  2. to remove guilt from
  3. to remove a group of people from (an area) by means of ethnic cleansing
Derived Formscleansable, adjective

Word Origin for cleanse

Old English clǣnsian; related to Middle Low German klēnsen; see clean
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 cleansing

Old English clænsunge "cleansing, purifying, castigation; chastity, purity," verbal noun from the root of cleanse. As a present participle adjective, attested from c.1300.



Old English clænsian "to cleanse, purge, purify, chasten, justify," from West Germanic *klainson, from *klainoz (see clean (adj.)). Despite its modern spelling (16c.), it retains its Middle English pronunciation. Related: Cleansed; cleansing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper