[ wosh, wawsh ]
See synonyms for wash on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to apply water or some other liquid to (something or someone) for the purpose of cleansing; cleanse by dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing in water or some other liquid.

  2. to remove (dirt, stains, paint, or any matter) by or as by the action of water (usually followed by out, off, etc.): to wash grime out of clothing.

  1. to free from spiritual defilement or from sin, guilt, etc.: to be washed whiter than the snow.

  2. to bathe, wet, or moisten with water or other liquid: a meadow newly washed with morning dew.

  3. to flow through, over, or against: a shore or cliff washed by waves.

  4. to carry, bring, remove, or deposit (something) by means of water or any liquid, or as the water or liquid does (often followed by up, down, or along): The storm washed the boat up on the shore. A sailor was washed overboard.

  5. to wear or diminish, as water does by flowing over or against a surface (often followed by out or away): The rain had washed away the lettering on the stone.

  6. (of water) to form by flowing over and eroding a surface: The flood had washed a new channel through the bottom lands.

  7. Mining.

    • to subject (earth or ore) to the action or force of water in order to separate valuable material.

    • to separate (valuable material) in this way.

  8. to purify (a gas or gaseous mixture) by passage through or over a liquid.

  9. to cover with a watery or thin coat of color.

  10. to overlay with a thin coat or deposit of metal: to wash brass with gold.

verb (used without object)
  1. to wash oneself: After using the insecticide spray they washed completely.

  2. to wash clothes: Monday is the day we wash.

  1. to cleanse anything with or in water or other liquid.

  2. to undergo washing without injury, especially shrinking or fading: fabrics guaranteed to wash.

  3. Informal. to be found true, valid, or real when tested or closely scrutinized; stand being put to the proof: His honesty won't wash.

  4. to be carried or driven by water (often followed by along or ashore): The boat had washed ashore in the night.

  5. to flow or beat with a lapping sound, as waves on a shore.

  6. to move along in or as in waves, or with a rushing movement, as water.

  7. to be eroded, as by a stream or by rainfall: a hillside that washes frequently.

  8. to be removed by the action of water (often followed by away): Much of the topsoil washes away each spring.

  1. the act or process of washing with water or other liquid: to give the car a wash.

  2. a quantity of clothes, linens, etc., washed, or to be washed, at one time: a heavy wash.

  1. a liquid with which something is washed, wetted, colored, overspread, etc.: She gave the room a wash of pale blue.

  2. the flow, sweep, dash, or breaking of water: The wash of the waves had drenched us.

  3. the sound made by this: listening to the wash of the Atlantic.

  4. water moving along in waves or with a rushing movement: the wash of the incoming tide.

  5. the rough or broken water left behind a moving ship, boat, etc.; wake: The little boats tossed about in the wash from the liner's propellers.

  6. Aeronautics. the disturbance in the air left behind by a moving airplane or any of its parts: wing wash.

  7. any of various liquids for grooming or cosmetic purposes: a hair wash.

  8. a lotion or other liquid having medicinal properties, as an antiseptic solution or the like (often used in combination): to apply wash to a skinned knee; mouthwash; eyewash.

  9. Mining. minerals from which valuable material can be extracted by washing.

  10. the wearing away of the shore by breaking waves.

  11. a tract of land washed by the action of the sea or a river.

  12. a marsh, fen, or bog.

  13. a small stream or shallow pool.

  14. a shallow arm of the sea or a shallow part of a river.

  15. a depression or channel formed by flowing water.

  16. Geology. alluvial matter transferred and deposited by flowing water.

  17. Also called dry wash. Western U.S. the dry bed of an intermittent stream.

  18. a broad, thin layer of color applied by a continuous movement of the brush, as in water-color painting.

  19. Also called watershed, weathering. Architecture.

    • an upper surface so inclined as to shed rainwater from a building.

    • any member of a building having such a surface.

  20. Metalworking.Also washing. a thin coat of metal applied in liquid form: a gold wash.

  21. waste liquid matter, refuse, food, etc., from the kitchen, as for hogs; swill (often used in combination): hogwash.

  22. washy or weak liquor or liquid food.

  23. the fermented wort from which the spirit is extracted in distilling.

  24. Informal. an action that yields neither gain nor loss: The company's financial position is a wash compared with last year.

  1. capable of being washed without shrinking, fading, etc.; washable: a wash dress.

Verb Phrases
  1. wash down,

    • to clean completely by washing: to wash down a car.

    • to facilitate the swallowing of (food or medicine) by drinking water or other liquid: to wash down a meal with a glass of wine.

  2. wash out,

    • to be removed by washing: The stain wouldn't wash out.

    • to damage or demolish by the action of water: The embankment was washed out by the storm.

    • Informal. to fail to qualify or continue; be eliminated: to wash out of graduate school.

    • to become dim, indistinct, or blurred: The face of the watch washes out in sunlight.

  1. wash up,

    • to wash one's face and hands: Aren't you going to wash up? Dinner is almost ready.

    • to wash (dishes, flatware, pots, etc.): I'll wash up the dishes, don't bother. We had someone in to wash up after the party.

    • to end, especially ignominiously (usually in the passive): After that performance, he's all washed up as a singer.

Idioms about wash

  1. come out in the wash,

    • to have a good or satisfactory result; turn out eventually: The situation may look hopeless now, but it will all come out in the wash.

    • to be revealed; become known.

  2. wash one's hands of. hand (def. 91).

Origin of wash

First recorded before 900; Middle English verb washen, Old English wascan (cognate with Dutch wasschen, German waschen, Old Norse vaska ), from Proto-Germanic watskan, equivalent to wat- (root of water) + -sk- verb suffix + -an infinitive suffix

Other words for wash

Other words from wash

  • pre·wash, noun, verb (used with object)
  • re·wash, verb
  • un·der·wash, verb
  • well-washed, adjective

Words Nearby wash

Other definitions for -wash (2 of 3)


  1. a combining form extracted from whitewash and added to a word that names a trend, a fad, or something otherwise deemed desirable, with the meaning “to give the appearance of,” indicating that the affiliation or association with the named thing is not genuine, as in a rebranding effort that attempts to cover up any negative facts or publicity: In an effort to evade environmental regulation, heavy industry is spending vast amounts to greenwash their impact.Parts of the gig economy are trying to sharewash their services.What real benefit is there for breast cancer research in pinkwashing products every October?

Other definitions for Wash. (3 of 3)


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use wash in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wash (1 of 3)


/ (wɒʃ) /

  1. to apply water or other liquid, usually with soap, to (oneself, clothes, etc) in order to cleanse

  2. (tr; often foll by away, from, off, etc) to remove by the application of water or other liquid and usually soap: she washed the dirt from her clothes

  1. (intr) to be capable of being washed without damage or loss of colour

  2. (of an animal such as a cat) to cleanse (itself or another animal) by licking

  3. (tr) to cleanse from pollution or defilement

  4. (tr) to make wet or moist

  5. (often foll by away, etc) to move or be moved by water: the flood washed away the bridge

  6. (esp of waves) to flow or sweep against or over (a surface or object), often with a lapping sound

  7. to form by erosion or be eroded: the stream washed a ravine in the hill

  8. (tr) to apply a thin coating of paint, metal, etc, to

  9. (tr) to separate (ore, precious stones, etc) from (gravel, earth, or sand) by immersion in water

  10. (intr; usually used with a negative) informal, mainly British to admit of testing or proof: your excuses won't wash with me this time

  11. wash one's hands

    • euphemistic to go to the lavatory

    • (usually foll by of) to refuse to have anything more to do (with)

  1. the act or process of washing; ablution

  2. a quantity of articles washed together

  1. a preparation or thin liquid used as a coating or in washing: a thin wash of paint; a hair wash

  2. med

    • any medicinal or soothing lotion for application to a part of the body

    • (in combination): an eyewash

  3. the flow of water, esp waves, against a surface, or the sound made by such a flow

  4. the erosion of soil by the action of flowing water

  5. a mass of alluvial material transported and deposited by flowing water

  6. land that is habitually washed by tidal or river waters

  7. the disturbance in the air or water produced at the rear of an aircraft, boat, or other moving object

  8. gravel, earth, etc, from which valuable minerals may be washed

  9. waste liquid matter or liquid refuse, esp as fed to pigs; swill

  10. an alcoholic liquid resembling strong beer, resulting from the fermentation of wort in the production of whisky

  11. come out in the wash informal to become known or apparent in the course of time

Origin of wash

Old English wæscan, waxan; related to Old High German wascan; see water

British Dictionary definitions for Wash (2 of 3)


/ (wɒʃ) /

  1. the Wash a shallow inlet of the North Sea on the E coast of England, between Lincolnshire and Norfolk

British Dictionary definitions for Wash. (3 of 3)


abbreviation for
  1. Washington

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with wash


In addition to the idioms beginning with wash

  • wash down
  • washed out
  • washed up
  • wash one's dirty linen in public
  • wash one's hands of
  • wash out
  • wash up

also see:

  • come out in the wash
  • won't wash

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.