[hwahyt-wosh, -wawsh, wahyt-]
  1. a composition, as of lime and water or of whiting, size, and water, used for whitening walls, woodwork, etc.
  2. anything, as deceptive words or actions, used to cover up or gloss over faults, errors, or wrongdoings, or absolve a wrongdoer from blame.
  3. Sports Informal. a defeat in which the loser fails to score.
verb (used with object)
  1. to whiten with whitewash.
  2. to cover up or gloss over the faults or errors of; absolve from blame.
  3. Sports Informal. to defeat by keeping the opponent from scoring: The home team whitewashed the visitors eight to nothing.

Origin of whitewash

First recorded in 1585–95; white + wash
Related formswhite·wash·er, nounun·white·washed, adjective

Synonyms for whitewash

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for white-washed

Historical Examples of white-washed

  • The houses are often white-washed, although their completion may take a good many years.

    The Negro Farmer

    Carl Kelsey

  • The brick floor was worn and weather-stained, as were the white-washed walls.

    Olive in Italy

    Moray Dalton

  • You would be white-washed by either team if you met them now.

  • I looked at the apartment: the walls were bare and white-washed.

    Peter Simple

    Frederick Marryat

  • Now give me that white-washed fence you have around your ears.

    The Young Railroaders

    Francis Lovell Coombs

British Dictionary definitions for white-washed


  1. a substance used for whitening walls and other surfaces, consisting of a suspension of lime or whiting in water, often with other substances, such as size, added
  2. informal deceptive or specious words or actions intended to conceal defects, gloss over failings, etc
  3. informal a defeat in a sporting contest in which the loser is beaten in every match, game, etc in a seriesthey face the prospect of a whitewash in the five-test series
verb (tr)
  1. to cover or whiten with whitewash
  2. informal to conceal, gloss over, or suppress
  3. informal to defeat (an opponent or opposing team) by winning every match in a series
Derived Formswhitewasher, noun
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 white-washed



1590s, "to wash a building surface with white liquid," from white + wash. Figurative sense of "to cover up, conceal" is attested from 1762. Related: Whitewashed; whitewashing. The noun is recorded from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper