[wosh-bawrd, -bohrd, wawsh-]
  1. a rectangular board or frame, typically with a corrugated metallic surface, on which clothes are rubbed in the process of washing.
  2. a baseboard around the walls of a room.
  3. Also called splashboard. Nautical.
    1. a thin, broad plank fastened to and projecting above the gunwale or side of a boat to keep out the spray and sea.
    2. a similar board on the sill of a port.
  1. resembling a washboard in being rough and bumpy: a washboard roadbed.

Origin of washboard

First recorded in 1735–45; wash + board
Related formswash·board·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for washboard

Contemporary Examples of washboard

Historical Examples of washboard

  • He reached for the washboard as he ceased, and smiled lovingly on his mother.

  • The ridges in a washboard help to clean the clothes that are rubbed over them.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • The wind came in gusts, and now every flaw carried her down to the washboard.

    The Coming Wave

    Oliver Optic

  • "I've had enough of this thing," said Charley, clinging to the washboard behind him.

    The Coming Wave

    Oliver Optic

  • She is through with the back-breaking battling trough 264 and the washboard.

British Dictionary definitions for washboard


  1. a board having a surface, usually of corrugated metal, on which esp formerly, clothes were scrubbed
  2. such a board used as a rhythm instrument played with the fingers in skiffle, Country and Western music, etc
  3. a less common US word for skirting board
  4. nautical
    1. a vertical planklike shield fastened to the gunwales of a boat to prevent water from splashing over the side
    2. Also called: splashboarda shield under a port for the same purpose
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 washboard

clothes-cleaning device, 1882, from wash (v.) + board (n.1). As a percussion instrument, attested from 1925; in reference to abdominal muscles, recorded from 1950 in boxing jargon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper