[ hwahyt-wosh, -wawsh, wahyt- ]
/ ˈʰwaɪtˌwɒʃ, -ˌwɔʃ, ˈwaɪt- /


a composition, as of lime and water or of whiting, size, and water, used for whitening walls, woodwork, etc.
anything, as deceptive words or actions, used to cover up or gloss over faults, errors, or wrongdoings, or absolve a wrongdoer from blame.
Sports Informal. a defeat in which the loser fails to score.

verb (used with object)

to whiten with whitewash.
to cover up or gloss over the faults or errors of; absolve from blame.
Sports Informal. to defeat by keeping the opponent from scoring: The home team whitewashed the visitors eight to nothing.

Nearby words

  1. whitesmith,
  2. whitethorn,
  3. whitethroat,
  4. whitetip shark,
  5. whitewall,
  6. whitewater,
  7. whitewater rafting,
  8. whitewing,
  9. whitewood,
  10. whitey

Origin of whitewash

First recorded in 1585–95; white + wash

Related formswhite·wash·er, nounun·white·washed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whitewash

British Dictionary definitions for whitewash


/ (ˈwaɪtˌwɒʃ) /


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
informal deceptive or specious words or actions intended to conceal defects, gloss over failings, etc
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)

to cover or whiten with whitewash
informal to conceal, gloss over, or suppress
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 whitewash



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