Definition of wash in English:



  • 1[with object] Clean with water and, typically, soap or detergent.

    ‘I stripped and washed myself all over’
    • ‘Every article of clothing reeks of foul-smelling smoke and those that cannot easily be washed have to be hung outside for days.’
    • ‘She realized her dress was covered in dirt and soot, and that she had not washed herself in a few days.’
    • ‘I lathered up and washed myself with honeysuckle-scented soap.’
    • ‘After the children left laundry was sorted, washed and ironed.’
    • ‘Use separate chopping boards and utensils or wash them thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, and any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.’
    • ‘She expresses an interest in the attractive silk shirts they are washing.’
    • ‘The books and papers will first be washed in clean water with a very mild detergent to remove the dirt and debris.’
    • ‘Each time it is returned, he merely washes it thoroughly and wears it again.’
    • ‘Be sure to keep your hands away from your eyes until you've washed them thoroughly.’
    • ‘The only way I have found to get my spectacles really clean is to wash them in soap and warm water.’
    • ‘The water was cold and she only had a sliver of soap to wash herself with.’
    • ‘She took out few clean tomatoes and lettuce and washed them thoroughly.’
    • ‘Be sure to wash your own hands thoroughly after touching your child's eyes, and throw away items like gauze or cotton balls after they have been used.’
    • ‘The plaintiffs had it cleaned and washed down on two occasions to get concrete and efflorescence off the walls.’
    • ‘After scrubbing with a nylon brush, thoroughly wash the area.’
    • ‘Make sure window coverings in your child's room can be washed or cleaned easily.’
    • ‘Trim the roots of the pak choi and thoroughly wash the leaves.’
    • ‘While everything cooks, wash and chop the parsley, dice the ham, toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet and chop them roughly.’
    • ‘If you do get scratched, wash the area thoroughly right away with soap and water.’
    • ‘Even curtains and blinds should be washed every now and then to remove dust.’
    shampoo, lather, clean
    launder, clean
    clean, cleanse, sponge, scrub, wipe, scour
    clean, cleanse, sponge, scrub, mop, hose down, squeegee, douse, flush, disinfect
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    1. 1.1[no object]Clean oneself, especially one's hands and face with soap and water.
      • ‘I shoved my hands into the scalding water and began to wash.’
      • ‘They were told to wash with soap and water and were sent home.’
      • ‘The warm water greeted her and Heather began washing.’
      • ‘The patient revealed that he was visiting his wife's family and had washed with a scented soap sold by one of the nearby upscale stores.’
      • ‘Inside, I filled my hands with soap, and washed furiously.’
      • ‘To protect your face, we recommend that you wash with mild facial soap and lukewarm, not hot, water.’
      • ‘Areas of skin which are affected by psoriasis must be treated gently when you are washing.’
      • ‘She finishes washing and dresses promptly in an active attire of trousers and tunic instead of a gown.’
      • ‘She lathered her hands up with the rose smelling soap and began to wash.’
      • ‘To keep the colds away and to preserve your skin, stick to natural soaps, moisturise with lotions, wash frequently and use water!’
      • ‘I washed and dressed in brown breeches and a black coat, not wanting to be encumbered by my heavy cloak.’
      • ‘It's rotten having to wash in salt water as the soap won't lather in the slightest although it is supposed to be salt water soap.’
      • ‘The men, both in their mid-forties, bearded and dressed in the local traditional baggy long shirt and trousers, washed, ate, prayed and then talked.’
      • ‘I really feel in this day and age, everyone should be able to drink and wash in clean water.’
      • ‘Then I'd wash, clean my teeth, eat the meal and go to school.’
      • ‘I cleaned and scrubbed, washed and purified, showered and bathed and sponged and splashed.’
      • ‘The operator should wash thoroughly with soap and water before eating and smoking.’
      • ‘Despite the coolness of that morning, he was ordered to crouch naked and wash with soap under the cold water.’
      • ‘Then I quickly washed, dressed, combed my hair, and used cosmetics on my face.’
      • ‘He scrubbed and soaped and washed and finally just relaxed.’
      clean oneself, have a wash, wash oneself
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    2. 1.2(with reference to a stain or dirt) remove or be removed by cleaning with water and detergent.
      ‘they have to keep washing the mold off the walls’
      figurative ‘all that hate can't wash away the guilt’
      [no object] [no object, with adverbial] ‘the dirt on his clothes would easily wash out’
      • ‘For example, enzymes in laundry detergents break down dirt and stains so that they may be easily washed away, even in cold water.’
      • ‘Often black sooty mold grows on the honeydew, but this mold can be gently washed off.’
      • ‘Lucy breathed in deeply, and turned her head upwards, accepting the water, feeling it wash away her dirt and grime.’
      • ‘In time, by coming clean, he may eventually wash some of the dirt off himself.’
      • ‘Accumulated dust and dirt had been washed off all growing things, so any trees or shrubs were at their greenest.’
      • ‘Our guilt has been washed away, and we now can enter God's presence as freely as little children run to their Daddy.’
      • ‘One by one, rinse each leek under cool water, taking care to wash away any dirt trapped between its layers.’
      • ‘Time has worn it down and dirt has been washed away, but stains persist.’
      • ‘Pesticides can be easily washed off, the sort of vermin living in organic foods can not.’
      • ‘I was hoping to die so that all my guilt would be washed away.’
      • ‘Returning from his grimy hours of manual labour, he dives into a hotel to wash away the dirt, emerging clean and immaculate in a fresh suit and tie.’
      • ‘It can be washed away easily with water, even once it has dried onto something.’
      • ‘The very reason we spend money on things like soap and washing machines is that we trust the dirt is temporary and can be washed away.’
      • ‘Mold can be washed off hard surfaces using detergent and water.’
      • ‘This hose isn't powerful enough to wash all of the dirt off them.’
      • ‘She boiled the water and soaked in a large tub enjoying the hot scalding water against her cold skin, she washed all of the dirt from her hair, she felt her eyes droop and she fell asleep.’
      • ‘Dirt, oil and bacteria are easily scrubbed off and washed away in this suspended state.’
      • ‘I loved what I managed to see of New York, but my skin protested by sprouting ugly things, and it took several shampoos to wash New York dirt out of my hair.’
      • ‘She held up his head with one hand and with the other she used the shower head to wash some of the dirt out of his hair.’
      • ‘She slowly undressed and then turned on the shower and let the hot water start to wash away all the dirt and grime from the day's activities.’
      remove by washing, sponge off, scrub off, wipe off, rinse off, remove, flush away, flush out, expunge, eradicate
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    3. 1.3[no object](of fabric, a garment, or dye) withstand cleaning to a specified degree without shrinking or fading.
      ‘a linen-mix yarn that washes well’
    4. 1.4[no object]Do one's laundry.
      ‘I need someone to cook and wash for me’
      • ‘They cook, wash, sell goods, provide medical advice.’
      • ‘The prisoners were also made to cook and wash for the militiamen, who are mostly from nomadic tribes and who travel by horse and camel.’
      • ‘In addition to washing, cooking, and performing custodial chores, some of these women sold baked goods and took in sewing.’
      • ‘For the first time in their lives I am cooking, washing and taking them to swimming at 5 o' clock in the morning every single day rather than once in a while.’
      • ‘The river is where much of Southeast Asia comes alive, so expect to see children frolicking, men cormorant fishing and women washing and cooking in the shallows.’
      • ‘She had cooked and washed for the men, always at knifepoint.’
      • ‘Fewer young people can be seen there, only kids playing outside and elders washing or cooking.’
      • ‘I know I'm gonna want somewhere to cook, wash, fall back on.’
      • ‘One night I was in the laundry room reading and washing and Karen came in with a basket of clothes.’
      • ‘He washed, scrubbed and cooked for all the people on board.’
      • ‘Women buy and sell in the markets, cook, wash, care for the pigs, and prepare offerings.’
      • ‘My parents came to stay on Saturday, so most of last week was spent trying to get everything done at work then going straight home to tidy, clean, wash etc.’
      • ‘But for those who embrace traditional ideas about family roles, it is rather weird to see men busy cooking and washing.’
      • ‘What do you do when you're not ironing, washing, cooking, and taking the children to and from school?’
      • ‘Then I look around and realise I haven't had time to wash or clean for three weeks and resignedly start picking at the bring-and-buy sale ranged round the bed.’
      • ‘But the lady who washes and cooks for us was also happy the party had won the local Assembly seat.’
      • ‘She didn't talk much when she wasn't washing or cooking.’
      • ‘With the weed-spraying business she had to cook and wash and iron and generally look after hordes of itinerant workmen, as well as her own sons and husband.’
    5. 1.5literary Wet or moisten (something) thoroughly.
      ‘you are beautiful with your face washed with rain’
      • ‘Relief finally came three weeks later when nearly an inch of rain fell, washing the city and stabilizing the ash.’
      • ‘If you're happy, it seems to be a soft, quiet rain that's washing the earth.’
      • ‘A sunny, rain washed morning on the cusp between summer and autumn is pretty close to heaven in my book, and a wonderful, crispy-clean way to start the day.’
      • ‘Ministers and officers were sitting at a long table in the conference hall, a dull rain sorrowfully washing large windows.’
  • 2[with object] (of flowing water) carry (someone or something) in a particular direction.

    ‘floods washed away the bridges’
    • ‘Beach profiles have been transformed, as the waters washed sand back out to sea.’
    • ‘Police think the body may not have been spotted before because it may have been washed down to that location after heavy rain.’
    • ‘A cloudburst on Sunday afternoon caused the river to flood and they were washed off a low-level bridge.’
    • ‘In 1978, a tropical cyclone, with destructive winds and huge waves, washed away large sections of the jetty near the shore.’
    • ‘When it rains storm water washes the accumulated waste into the water sources.’
    • ‘The rains are due but they will not supply enough water and will wash roads away, making aid deliveries tougher still.’
    • ‘The tidal waves washed away their raw materials and equipment.’
    • ‘While trying to swim across to safety six of them were washed away by strong water current.’
    • ‘Three bridges along the main coast road have been washed away and helicopters were flying over flooded areas to help with rescue efforts.’
    • ‘Those organisms not securely fastened to the rocks will likely be torn free and washed ashore or carried into the open ocean.’
    • ‘After rain, for example, it was relatively easy to find obsidian as the sand that covered it was washed away by the water.’
    • ‘Obediently he did so, but the waters washed them ashore undamaged.’
    • ‘It was washed away by the flood waters of Chartiers Creek.’
    • ‘Despite their efforts and curses, the winds and the rogue waves wash them past any seemingly habitable islands.’
    • ‘Eighteen people were missing after flood waters washed a bus off a national highway on Thursday.’
    • ‘In 1920 Mungerannie homestead was washed away by flood waters more than a metre high.’
    • ‘It replaced a lighthouse that had been built of wood and was washed away by the sea.’
    • ‘I tilted my head back, letting the water wash the dust and sweat off my face.’
    • ‘When planting, always firm in the rootballs well and, until the roots establish, surround each plant with stones to ensure they are not washed away if the water level temporarily rises.’
    • ‘Slowly, she lathered her body with the softly scented soap, watching as the water washed it away in rivulets down her arms.’
    erode, abrade, wear away, corrode, eat away, eat into, denude, grind down, undermine
    sweep, carry, convey, transport, move, deliver, deposit, drive
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    1. 2.1[no object]Be carried by flowing water.
      ‘an oil slick washed up on the beaches’
      • ‘Then, on a subsequent large wave, the fish wash back into the ocean.’
      • ‘According to some reports, 16,000 birds have washed ashore dead.’
      • ‘The pollutants fall to earth in snow, rain, and dust particles, eventually washing into the many lakes and ponds that dot the region.’
      • ‘Disturbed by the impact of continual foot traffic, easily erodable soil washes away.’
      • ‘In 1994, 21 dolphins and three sperm whales washed ashore along the central coast of California’
      • ‘Several dead beluga whales washed ashore recently in Alaska after dozens were temporarily stranded on mud flats during low tide.’
      • ‘For years there has been a problem with whales washing onto beaches.’
      • ‘One forestry official pointed out that mountain forests were essential to prevent soil washing down the steep slopes in heavy rains.’
      sweep, carry, convey, transport, move, deliver, deposit, drive
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    2. 2.2[no object](especially of waves) sweep, move, or splash in a particular direction.
      ‘the sea began to wash along the decks’
      • ‘I spent an hour mesmerised by the waves, washing in and out across the sand, every now and then throwing up coloured gems.’
      • ‘For every can of water he tossed out, another wave washed in.’
      • ‘So as the waves washed in and ran away again, she was soothed and mellowed.’
      • ‘The waves gently washed ashore, splashing on the rocks.’
      • ‘At sunset I lounge in my four-poster bed and watch as the waves wash onto the rocks, spray hitting the veranda.’
      • ‘The couple, from Doncaster, were sleeping in their first-floor bedroom when the first wave hit and floodwater washed through the ground floor of their hotel.’
      • ‘The waves washed against the cars and drenched those on the top.’
      • ‘The sun shone brightly in the sky and the waves washed smoothly over their feet.’
      • ‘In Thailand, 30-foot waves washed ashore in the resort area of Phuket.’
      • ‘The waves washed straight across 200 of them and destroyed every house on them.’
      • ‘Also on clear water, look for any areas that are murky, perhaps close to in-flowing streams or where waves wash against a shoreline.’
      • ‘The deaths were often blamed on the victims' lack of alertness for the large waves that occasionally washed ashore.’
      • ‘He'd been meditating when the first wave arrived, almost washing into the temple, and now he was coordinating the distribution of aid to approximately 2000 people.’
      • ‘Low sibilant noises pulled me out of dreams of cold ocean waves washing on a shale beach.’
      • ‘After several attempts and with large waves washing through the lifeboat, Crewman Rogers managed to bring three people over the bow.’
      • ‘Soon, we had a new wall made from wet sand, and as the waves washed higher on the beach parts of that would collapse too.’
      splash, lap, splosh, dash, break, beat, strike, sweep, move, surge, ripple, roll, flow
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    3. 2.3(of a river, sea, or lake) flow through or lap against (a country, coast, etc.)
      ‘offshore islands washed by warm blue seas’
      • ‘The Atlantic Ocean washes Spain's north coast, the far northwest corner adjacent to Portugal, and the far southwestern zone between the Portuguese border and the Strait of Gibraltar.’
      • ‘Yes, the climate is extreme, but there is a definite autumn, winter, spring and summer thanks to the Gulf Stream, which washes the coastline.’
      • ‘The Gulf Stream stopped washing the shores of northern Europe with the warm waters of the Caribbean thirteen years ago.’
      • ‘Men envisioned a Caribbean where trade and economic corporation flows as easily as the tides that wash these blessed shores.’
      • ‘I dream of travelling to the countries that are washed by the Mediterranean Sea.’
      • ‘For warm-water swimming you have to take a trip to the eastern coast, which is washed by the Indian Ocean, half an hour or so away.’
      • ‘Beneath the Cape's rugged cliff faces, washed by blue, mauve and aquamarine seas, migrating humpback whales can be heard breathing at sunrise.’
    4. 2.4Sift metallic particles from (earth or gravel) by running water through it.
  • 3[with object] Brush with a thin coat of diluted paint or ink.

    ‘the walls were washed with shades of umber’
    • ‘The outside was washed in red paint, which was chipping due to age and weather conditions.’
    paint, colour, apply paint to, tint, highlight, shade, dye, stain, distemper
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    1. 3.1Coat inferior metal with (a film of gold or silver from a solution)
      plate, cover, coat, overlay, laminate, veneer, glaze, gild, silver
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  • 4informal [no object] Seem convincing or genuine.

    ‘charm won't wash with this crew’
    be accepted, be acceptable, be plausible, be convincing, hold up, hold water, stand up, bear scrutiny, stand the test of time, be believable, be credible, pass muster, prove true, make sense
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  • 1[usually in singular] An act of washing something or an instance of being washed.

    • ‘They were very dirty and needed a good wash, the blankets.’
    • ‘All in all, he could do with a bit of a wash and a brush-up.’
    • ‘The dust and heat of Delhi summer was hard to live through, and we knew how difficult it was to have a decent wash in the summer when the whole city was hit by an acute shortage of water.’
    • ‘Mark enjoyed a hair wash and trim while Carol was treated to a facial and Briony had a pedicure consultation as they prepared themselves for the Christmas break.’
    • ‘The fragrance will linger on the clothes even after a wash.’
    • ‘In the interim, carers have been going in to see her and they would certainly have offered her a wash.’
    • ‘At last we were able to have a shower and give our clothes a wash.’
    • ‘Give that girl a bath, or at the very least a hair wash, some elocution lessons and the imagination to ask questions beyond the banal.’
    • ‘I help provide clients with a fresh change of clothes after they have had a hot meal and a wash.’
    • ‘It was also mentioned that some signs newly erected by Council were defaced and that a wash wouldn't do any harm to the old signs and would improve the legibility.’
    • ‘His clothes were dirty and in need of a good wash.’
    • ‘Today I got up, used the toilet, had a wash, cleaned my teeth and ate my breakfast.’
    • ‘They feel disabled physically, unable to do anything, unable to have a wash or go to the toilet.’
    • ‘I did a quick wash of my hair and lathering of the rest of my body.’
    • ‘The shampoo smell was more of a mystery as I had never seen Antonio ever give anyone a hair wash.’
    • ‘The hairdresser massaged Peter's scalp during the wash, and was very careful using the cut-throat razor to tidy up.’
    • ‘It had some sort of profound effect upon me as later that afternoon I had a wash, including my hair, and changed my underwear.’
    • ‘I hated not being able to have a wash, get wet clothes dry and having to walk in mud every day.’
    • ‘His eyes peer angrily out from a dirt-smeared face, his hair needs a good wash and the clothes he's wearing are definitely getting stinky.’
    • ‘Dust-laden vehicles got a new lease of life with a nice wash.’
    clean, cleaning, cleansing
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    1. 1.1A quantity of clothes needing to be or just having been washed.
      ‘she hung out her Tuesday wash’
      • ‘She kept picking my clean sports clothes out of the wash.’
      • ‘When she looks at him, he starts to purr so she puts down her wash and scratches him behind the ears.’
      • ‘I decided to use the opportunity to put on a wash.’
      • ‘I do have a little exfoliating cloth thing that I use sometimes and then throw into the wash with the other laundry.’
      • ‘He helps with the evening meal, takes the little one swimming and talks the big one through his homework, bungs in a wash and then rolls up his sleeves for bathtime.’
      • ‘Switching off the TV at night instead of leaving it on standby, saving the weekly wash until you've got a full load, and only boiling as much water as you need, can all save money.’
      • ‘Many women made their own soap and took a pride in hanging out a white wash.’
      • ‘Kathryn was cackling happily as she dropped Olivia's purple sock into the wash with her brother's white underclothes.’
      • ‘I am ‘punished’ for not doing the wash by having only dirty clothes to wear.’
      • ‘The outbuildings had rooms for drying beans, storing lumber, hanging the wash in bad weather.’
      laundry, washing
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    2. 1.2A medicinal or cleansing solution.
      ‘mouth wash’
      • ‘Shampoo, toothpaste and body wash contain harmful toxins too.’
      • ‘She then followed with a milk facial wash, a toner lotion and a new-generation deep biological cleansing cream.’
      • ‘She reached over to the small counter in the shower and picked up a bottle of body wash, scrubbing it gently over her skin.’
      • ‘I grabbed my toothbrush and face wash from the bathroom and went into the kitchen.’
      • ‘There were clean towels, a fresh, white robe hanging on the back of the door and brand new bottles of shampoo, conditioner and even body wash.’
      • ‘A lot of men are asking themselves an important question these days: should they use an exfoliating body wash or a loofah in the shower?’
      • ‘During treatment with prescribed medications, patients should use bland facial washes and moisturizers.’
      • ‘He reached down and grabbed his bottle of body wash.’
      • ‘Pamper yourself by using your favorite body wash and shampoo.’
      • ‘I stripped and hopped in, taking my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush and paste and sponge with me.’
      • ‘It's nice and easy to just squirt the body wash all over yourself, rather than use soap.’
      • ‘The range includes body wash and deodorant in addition to eau de toilette.’
      • ‘A scented body gel or wash, followed by a lotion of the same scent, helps build a powerful fragrance foundation.’
      • ‘Body lotions, shower washes and shampoos/conditioners in your favorite scents make great options now - as do body splashes or sprays, which are lighter than typical perfume products.’
      • ‘Use a single note body wash or lotion, like gardenia or tangerine, then lightly spray on a similar scent for a custom blend.’
      • ‘Abbey took her time in the shower and used her favorite scented body wash.’
      • ‘Tired of traipsing around the globe with shampoo, body wash, face cleanser, and 1,200 other grooming products?’
      • ‘Showering soon after a workout and using antibacterial acne washes on the face also help prevent blemishes.’
      • ‘Chill out with this delicious basil and lime body wash.’
      • ‘He had shampoo in his hair and he was using her body wash.’
      lotion, salve, application, preparation, rinse, liquid, liniment, embrocation, emulsion
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  • 2[in singular] The disturbed water or air behind a moving boat or aircraft or the sound made by this.

    ‘the wash of a motorboat’
    • ‘The 10 mph limit is no problem to the wildlife whose habitat is destroyed by pollutants and the wash from high-speed boats.’
    • ‘It has been impossible to go out in my steamboat because it is long and narrow and could easily be rolled over by the wash from speedboats.’
    • ‘Stand aft to look down on the wake frothing up from the propeller wash.’
    • ‘The main problem, Ray says, is the wake or wash left by the boat.’
    • ‘We passed over a number of waves created by their wash and then the last one swamped us.’
    • ‘My first thought was I had flown through jet wash from another aircraft.’
    • ‘A witness was concerned the wash could endanger staff working on moored boats in the area, as well as swamping rowing boats in the Putney area.’
    • ‘When we land near water, the wash from the blades moves them around like floating logs.’
    • ‘Another went racing across the wash of the boat, its sail and sickle shaped tail leaving no doubt as to its identity.’
    • ‘The jet wash at 13,000 feet was testimony to how close we were to swapping more than ‘paint’ on that fateful day.’
    • ‘The crew braces for shock, the boat shudders and a giant plume of boat wash is the only mark left in the faint moonlight as the boat races forward into harm's way.’
    backwash, backflow, wake, trail, train, path
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    1. 2.1The surging of water or breaking of waves or the sound made by this.
      ‘the wash of waves on the pebbled beach’
      • ‘The seafront rooms hear a constant wash of incoming waves, but for most people this becomes a sleeping pill in the end.’
      • ‘Above him, sea birds wheeled and called and although he couldn't see a beach, he could hear the gentle wash of waves on the shore.’
      • ‘But there is a Caribbean calm, intense in the tropical sun, and the sedative wash of the waves.’
      surge, flow, swell, welling, sweep, undulation, rise and fall, ebb and flow, roll, splash
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  • 3A layer of paint or metal spread thinly on a surface.

    ‘the walls were covered with a pale lemon wash’
    • ‘Most of the time these techniques employ glazes or washes applied over a solid colored background color.’
    • ‘The moon hung in the sky nearly full, spreading a luminous wash across the pale landscape.’
    • ‘Her variegated surfaces may be opaque or layered as transparent washes, glazed or scraped, scumbled, wiped down or sanded.’
    • ‘I introduced a variety of glazing techniques including light washes, layering, blending, blotting, spraying and antiquing.’
    • ‘He'll mix it with pale washes of oil paint, but avoids getting into a paint process that would require thicker paint and building up layers of glazing.’
    • ‘To produce his works, he screenprints one or more photographic images, sometimes a single one repeated, onto the canvas, overlaying them with acrylic washes of various densities.’
    • ‘A watercolour wash is a fluid made up of water in which the colour particles brushed from cakes of pigment are suspended.’
    • ‘His paintings have the quality of screen prints at times: flat blockiness competes with spongy washes and the enticing effect of dry pigment dragged across a surface.’
    • ‘The exhibition starts with Ferron's darker compositions of the '40s; often the weave of the canvas is visible through thin washes of oil paint.’
    • ‘Both cabinets are made of sycamore entirely ebonized, and the panels are painted with washes of brown and amber, so that the golden color of the close-grained wood shows through.’
    • ‘While the paint is still damp, I drop blobs of brown paint onto the wet wash, creating a random spotted pattern.’
    • ‘Over the years Sol has used pencil, artist's crayon, Crayola crayons, chalk lines, ink washes and, as in our case, acrylic paint.’
    • ‘The approach is similar to painting with thin washes of oil or watercolor.’
    • ‘Three limpid watercolors reveal their development through a few washes applied to a pencil or ink line drawing, providing more graphic than chromatic complexity.’
    • ‘The sun was setting in a wash of scarlet beyond the great hippodrome.’
    • ‘Using a thick brush, cover a sheet of paper with a bright wash of watery paint.’
    • ‘A blue-green wash, visible through the light coatings of varnish, surrounds the central form.’
    • ‘Finally, rub down the wood to remove the splinters, give it a thin wash of acrylic paint and brush on the clear preservative.’
    • ‘Throughout his life, possibly because of crippling arthritis, his preferred medium was watercolour, painted in luminous washes within tight well-defined outlines.’
    • ‘Stephens veils the pastoral subjects with milky washes that streak the surface, and a brown glaze that drips languorously down it.’
    paint, stain, varnish, coat, layer, film, overlay
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  • 4Silt or gravel carried by a stream or river and deposited as sediment.

    1. 4.1A sandbank exposed only at low tide.
    2. 4.2(in the western US) a dry bed of a stream, typically in a ravine, that flows only seasonally.
      • ‘Traversing this landscape are countless washes - waterways that are dry for most of the year but fill up briefly following torrential summer rains.’
      • ‘When occasional heavy rains run off the mountain and fill the wash, the water flows around the boulders and collects in a pond Schumacher formed in a low area.’
  • 5Kitchen slops and other food waste fed to pigs.

  • 6Malt fermenting in preparation for distillation.

    • ‘Here they found three stills, two still heads and two worms, with five barrels of wash ready for distillation, and a quantity of yeast.’
  • 7North American informal [in singular] A situation or result that is of no benefit to either of two opposing sides.

    ‘the plan's impact on jobs would be a wash, creating as many as it costs’
    • ‘By lunch, I was feeling better, but a good chunk of the morning was a bit of a wash.’
    • ‘Together, the two films and DVD presentations cancel each other out, resulting in a wash for a recommendation.’
    • ‘If the matchup problems he creates can offset the matchup liabilities he endures on defense, he could play many opposing centers to a wash or better.’
    • ‘However, I think we have a ways to go in terms of convincing actuaries that in fact e-mail is at worst a wash and probably a benefit.’
    • ‘With the rest of the season a wash, the team will experiment with players who could make an impact next season.’
    • ‘He was out with a knee injury, and his rookie season looked like a wash.’
    • ‘The additions of Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham, Jose Cruz Jr. and Marquis Grissom likely will amount to a wash.’


  • come out in the wash

    • informal Be resolved eventually with no lasting harm.

      ‘he's not happy, but he assures me it'll all come out in the wash’
      • ‘If governments act as they should, and everything else as it should, the market will take care of itself and everything will come out in the wash.’
      • ‘In normal circumstances, these sorts of differences just come out in the wash.’
      • ‘As for my own view, I think it all comes out in the wash; some people are doing nasty things, some people are doing good things, been there, done that.’
      • ‘Don't worry about it, it'll come out in the wash.’
      • ‘So by the time we come to sell up, it will all most likely have come out in the wash.’
      • ‘I was hoping to wait until we saw each other, or to see if he got in touch with me at all - childish I know, but hey ho, we are good friends anyway, so it will all come out in the wash.’
      • ‘It's probably saved me a lot of money in therapy because I am aware that it all comes out in the wash.’
      • ‘It'll all come out in the wash, as my Gran used to say.’
      • ‘After all, one might point out, defendants are not being ‘overtaxed’ by the tort system as long as the average award they pay is reasonable; they will groan at the high awards, gloat over the low ones, and it will all come out in the wash.’
      • ‘The realisation induced a moment or two of panic, and then I shrugged and figured it would all come out in the wash.’
  • in the wash

    • (of clothes, bed linen, or similar) put aside for washing or in the process of being washed.

      • ‘Remove excess clutter from countertops and shelves, put dirty towels in the wash, and organize along the way.’
      • ‘I'm sure you could borrow something of Julianne's, and I could throw your stuff in the wash.’
      • ‘Eventually my guests made up their minds, and the order was carefully written down by a young waitress whose clothes seemed to have shrunk in the wash.’
      • ‘I spilled water on my shirt, and all my clothes are in the wash.’
      • ‘You began to get a really bad fever and were sweating so she took your clothes and they are in the wash as we speak.’
      • ‘Like an idiot, I threw my brand new wool sweater in the wash and then in the dryer, shrinking it down about three sizes, rendering it unwearable.’
      • ‘I kept forgetting to put my clothes in the wash, so this morning when I got up, I realized that I had no clean gym clothes.’
      • ‘I think doctors should wear a T-shirt, and as soon as it's dirty put it in the wash and put a new one on.’
      • ‘At one point he even threw away all his underwear, thinking it might have shrunk in the wash and be constricting his leg.’
      • ‘I threw my clothes in the wash and then went for another shower.’
  • one hand washes the other

    • Mutual favors are exchanged.

      ‘You can be on the list if you also link to our page. One hand washes the other’
  • wash (or air) one's dirty linen (or laundry) in public

    • informal (of an individual or a member of an organization) discuss or argue about one's private affairs in public.

      • ‘Sadie hates the fact that she was washing her dirty laundry in public.’
      • ‘Why should we wash our dirty linen in public as if we don't have structures to address our differences?’
      • ‘There are people who do believe we should not wash our dirty linen in public, but we don't agree.’
      • ‘There is a terrible pressure within the community to close ranks, not to be seen in public, washing one's dirty linen in public.’
      • ‘By doing this the team are washing their dirty laundry in public.’
      • ‘In fact, they pride themselves on washing their dirty laundry in public.’
      • ‘How much longer can the board go on washing their dirty linen in public?’
      • ‘I take your point about their relative ease in front of the camera, but then these are people who like, and are used to, living their lives and washing their dirty linen in public.’
      • ‘I'm certainly clear that one of the reasons why women are prepared to go to the family courts but not to the criminal courts is the fear of washing their dirty laundry in public.’
      • ‘I'm not going to write about this here, because it wouldn't be fair and I don't believe in washing my dirty laundry in public.’
  • wash one's hands

    • Go to the toilet (used euphemistically)

  • wash one's hands of

    • Disclaim responsibility for.

      ‘the social services washed their hands of his daughter’
      • ‘Structural injustice occurs when we let the system oppress the poor and the defenseless by washing our hands of the matter or simply walking away from the victims.’
      • ‘Like some libertarian Pontius Pilate, he washed his hands of any responsibility, skillfully uncoupling the role of the executive from execution.’
      • ‘By this time the American representatives of the governing body had washed their hands of all responsibility and even stopped attending board meetings.’
      • ‘The Conservatives, on the other hand, believe sprawl is a provincial and municipal issue, and are washing their hands of it.’
      • ‘As an executive who is responsible for financial affairs, he should not be washing his hands of the matter in such a way.’
      • ‘But in recent interviews, he has tried to wash his hands of any responsibility for that mistake.’
      • ‘It was a show they had virtually washed their hands of and abandoned, but one which they didn't actually realise was, in itself, a sensation.’
      • ‘They're washing their hands of the problem but also guaranteeing the landlords get their revenues, which are, of course, a form of tax revenue.’
      • ‘We need to find the right balance between so-called ‘nannying’ and simply washing our hands of our people's health.’
      • ‘And she is angry that a town whose residents often complain about teenagers behaving badly are contemplating washing their hands of a scheme which is tackling the problem.’
      disown, disclaim, renounce, reject, abjure, forswear, disavow, have nothing to do with, have done with, be finished with, be through with, give up on, turn one's back on, cast aside, end relations with, abandon
      View synonyms
  • wash one's mouth out (with soap)

    • [often as imperative]Stop swearing.

      • ‘Your mom may have once threatened to wash your mouth out with soap.’
      • ‘Ian should wash his mouth out with soap!’
      • ‘The Minister should wash her mouth out.’
      • ‘You people should go wash your mouths out.’
      • ‘I had no idea that she could even utter that word without wanting to wash her mouth out.’
      • ‘When we were boys Mum told my brothers and I not to use rude words or she'd wash our mouths out with soap.’
      • ‘But when it comes to the economy, I'm not ready to wash my mouth out just yet.’
      • ‘He should get up, withdraw and apologise, and wash his mouth out.’
      • ‘Have my mother wash my mouth out with soap on public access tv’
      • ‘Both sides, whilst washing their mouths out with soap, may still ponder the title.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • wash something down

    • Accompany or follow food with a drink.

      ‘bacon and eggs washed down with a cup of tea’
      • ‘This was all washed down with coffee and orange juice.’
      • ‘Every recreational hard drug conceivable is washed down with booze, both bought and stolen.’
      • ‘I am told sticky toffee pudding is often served with custard, fresh cream, ice-cream or yogurt, but it's also fine as is, washed down with a cup of good tea.’
      • ‘He took his drinks so seriously that he could give a lecture on why a certain kind of trout should be washed down with red wine and not white wine.’
      • ‘Hundreds of sausages and burgers were washed down with pints of guest ale and resident brews.’
      • ‘All of this was washed down with a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon and a glass of port.’
      • ‘He seemed both tired and restless by the time the meal was washed down with a cupful of water.’
      • ‘We had a couple beers to wash the food down and then headed back into town.’
      • ‘Here, hearty staples can be washed down with a selection of moderately priced wines.’
      • ‘All of this was washed down with generous piping hot glasses of mulled wine.’
  • wash out (or wash someone out)

    • Be excluded (or exclude someone) from a course or position after a failure to meet the required standards.

      ‘a lot of them had washed out of pilot training’
      • ‘However, the commander told me that I had not soloed in ten hours and he was going to wash me out.’
      • ‘I don't know if this really impaired his flying ability, but unfortunately Bernie didn't make it and I had to wash him out.’
      • ‘Paperwork was initiated to declare him unstable, a misfit, and wash him out of military service with a Section-8 discharge as ‘unsuitable for military service.’’
      • ‘After I was washed out of flight school, I was sent to a separate barracks with other men who had also failed their check-ride to await reassignment.’
      • ‘People were trying to wash him out, and it's lit a fire under him.’
  • wash something out

    • 1Cause an event to be postponed or canceled because of rain.

      ‘the game was washed out’
      • ‘On June 30, 1934, Lou Gehrig of the Yankees would have tied a major league record with three triples in a game but the incomplete game was washed out by rain.’
      • ‘Farnworth were robbed of their big chance to gain ground on Egerton when their head-to-head was washed out on Saturday.’
      • ‘The farm was flooded, the farmers markets were washed out week after week, and Greg and Andy's cash flow went down the drain.’
      • ‘The two semi final matches were washed out by rain and according to the rules the finalists were decided on the net run rate.’
      • ‘Forget the problems at the league stage, if the final and all reserve days were washed out due to rain, the trophy would be shared.’
      • ‘Newburgh in Fife, for instance, saw their games cancelled not once, but twice, after the original event was washed out - and the day on which the event was rescheduled proved wet too.’
      • ‘The event was washed out by flash floods in the pre-dawn hours on the day of the race.’
      • ‘An hour or two later torrential rain began to fall and the show was washed out.’
      • ‘England's only realistic hope of avoiding defeat lay with the weather and their prayers were answered as Sunday's first two sessions were washed out by rain.’
      • ‘Play started just an hour late after the previous two days had been washed out by heavy rain and a waterlogged outfield.’
    • 2(of a flood or downpour) make a breach in a road.

      • ‘She said the entire island, which is about 14 miles wide, by the way, is covered in about four feet of water, that the ferries aren't running and all their roads are washed out.’
      • ‘Trailers are toppled, roads are washed out and equipment is bent and broken.’
      • ‘Even after Addie has been dead over a week, and all of the bridges to Jefferson are washed out, he is still determined to get to Jefferson.’
      • ‘It had been there hundreds of years but until Hawnby Bridge was washed out by the weekend's flash floods nobody appreciated it.’
      • ‘A mile or so of the road had been washed out by a flood in 1995, and the agency had decided to keep it closed, saying that construction would hasten erosion and threaten the river's dwindling population of bull trout.’
      • ‘A woman in labour was air-lifted from Ruatahuna to Rotorua Hospital, while about 30 people are cut off from civilisation in Ruatoki after access roads were washed out.’
      • ‘Most roads and bridges servicing plantations were washed out.’
      • ‘All the roads were washed out so our helicopters are the only way in.’
  • wash over

    • 1(of a feeling) affect (someone) suddenly.

      ‘a deep feeling of sadness washed over her’
      • ‘I exhaled, a wave of sadness and regret washing over me.’
      • ‘I felt a surge of sadness washing over me as I held him.’
      • ‘I suddenly felt a peace wash over me, and I knew he'd heard and all was forgiven.’
      • ‘Therese stepped into the stables, a sudden wave of suspicion washing over her.’
      • ‘The guilt washed over me like storm clouds being pushed by the northern winds.’
      • ‘Suddenly Selena felt a wave of sadness washing over her.’
      • ‘When I heard their footsteps fade and their door close I felt a sudden wave of relief wash over me.’
      • ‘Suddenly a wave of homesickness washed over me, almost more than I could bear.’
      • ‘Guilt washed over James, even though his father seemed undisturbed by his outburst.’
      • ‘A mixture of happiness and guilt washed over her, and she could only sigh.’
      • ‘He felt a wave of sadness wash over him again, but he ignored it, like he did every day.’
      • ‘My eyelids begin to droop, and a sudden wave of exhaustion washes over me.’
      • ‘The pain from his wounds suddenly washed over him like a tidal wave, ten times worse than before.’
      • ‘I wailed, a sudden sensation of hopelessness washing over me.’
      • ‘Audrey wasn't sure if the sudden spinning feeling that washed over her was one of relief of regret.’
      • ‘When he didn't call again, a wave of sadness washed over me, but it contained a bit of relief.’
      • ‘I bit my lower lip as if a moment of clarity had suddenly washed over me and I realized what I had just agreed to.’
      • ‘Tears came like a sudden wave of sadness, washing over me.’
      • ‘As the plane touched down, the fatigue and stress suddenly washed over me and I nearly burst into tears.’
      • ‘She felt a sudden burst of shyness wash over her and suddenly felt extremely embarrassed for wearing a towel.’
      affect, rush over, rush through, thrill through, race over, surge through, course through, flood over, flow over, sweep over, flutter through
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Occur all around without greatly affecting (someone)
        ‘she allowed the babble of conversation to wash over her’
        • ‘Other times, I'll just sit there, letting the conversation wash over me, convinced that I have nothing useful or interesting to add.’
        • ‘So I decided to let the intense clamour of conversation wash over me and enjoy it.’
        • ‘For the rest of the journey Mary allowed the conversation to wash over her and she finally felt normal.’


Old English wæscan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wassen, German waschen, also to water.