[ wahyt-wosh, -wawsh, hwahyt- ]
See synonyms for: whitewashwhitewashedwhitewashing on Thesaurus.com

  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.

  1. 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, as to shield from suspicion or blame: His complaint with the soft drink industry is that they’ve whitewashed a serious health concernby normalizing the overconsumption of sugary beverages.The plan was to whitewash all the preliminary deals that led up to the “inadvertently illicit” contract, but the investigation revealed the coach’s hands all over those deals.

  1. Sports Informal. to defeat by keeping the opponent from scoring: The home team whitewashed the visitors eight to nothing.

    • to cast a white actor to play (a character of color, or a character belonging to a minority group) in a film, television show, or play:The studio executives whitewashed the role of Genghis Khan, choosing a famous white actor who was a popular box-office draw.

    • to exclude or erase (a minority character or group) by substituting a member or members of the dominant cultural group in fictional representations of historical events:The film whitewashes Black trans women, attributing their contributions and actions to white gay men.: See also erase (def. 6).

Origin of whitewash

First recorded in 1585–95; white + wash

Other words for whitewash

Other words from whitewash

  • white·wash·er, noun
  • white·wash·ing, noun
  • un·white·washed, adjective

Words Nearby whitewash

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

How to use whitewash in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for whitewash


/ (ˈwaɪtˌwɒʃ) /

  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

  1. informal a defeat in a sporting contest in which the loser is beaten in every match, game, etc in a series: they face the prospect of a whitewash in the five-test series

  1. to cover or whiten with whitewash

  2. informal to conceal, gloss over, or suppress

  1. informal to defeat (an opponent or opposing team) by winning every match in a series

Derived forms of whitewash

  • whitewasher, 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