• synonyms


[lawn-der, lahn-]
verb (used with object)
  1. to wash (clothes, linens, etc.).
  2. to wash and iron (clothes).
  3. Informal.
    1. to disguise the source of (illegal or secret funds or profits), usually by transmittal through a foreign bank or a complex network of intermediaries.
    2. to disguise the true nature of (a transaction, operation, or the like) by routing money or goods through one or more intermediaries.
  4. to remove embarrassing or unpleasant characteristics or elements from in order to make more acceptable: He'll have to launder his image if he wants to run for office.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to wash laundry.
  2. to undergo washing and ironing: The shirt didn't launder well.
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  1. (in ore dressing) a passage carrying products of intermediate grade and residue in water suspension.
  2. Metallurgy. a channel for conveying molten steel to a ladle.
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Origin of launder

1300–50; 1970–75 for def 3; Middle English: launderer, syncopated variant of lavandere, lavendere washer of linen < Middle French lavandier(e) < Medieval Latin lavandārius (masculine), lavandāria (feminine), equivalent to Latin lavand- (gerund stem of lavāre to wash) + -ārius, -āria -ary; see -er2)
Related formslaun·der·a·ble, adjectivelaun·der·a·bil·i·ty, nounlaun·der·er, nounre·laun·der, verb (used with object)un·laun·dered, adjectivewell-laun·dered, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for launderer

Historical Examples of launderer

  • You, Cale and Richards, run to fetch a launderer that shall set a mattress in the ante-chamber for this my cousin to lie on.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned

    Ford Madox Ford

  • After due reflection I decided to start as a launderer, specialising in washing shirts at ten pfennigs, or one penny, apiece.

British Dictionary definitions for launderer


  1. to wash, sometimes starch, and often also iron (clothes, linen, etc)
  2. (intr) to be capable of being laundered without shrinking, fading, etc
  3. (tr) to process (something acquired illegally) to make it appear respectable, esp to process illegally acquired funds through a legitimate business or to send them to a foreign bank for subsequent transfer to a home bank
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  1. a water trough, esp one used for washing ore in mining
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Derived Formslaunderer, noun

Word Origin for launder

C14 (n, meaning: a person who washes linen): changed from lavender washerwoman, from Old French lavandiere, ultimately from Latin lavāre to wash
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 launderer



1660s, "to wash linen," from noun launder "one who washes" (especially linen), mid-15c., a contraction of lavender, from Old French lavandier "washer, launderer," from Medieval Latin lavandaria "a washer," ultimately from Latin lavare "to wash" (see lave). Criminal banking sense first recorded 1961, from notion of making dirty money seem clean; brought to widespread use during U.S. Watergate scandal, 1973. Related: Laundered; laundering.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper