from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To cleanse, using water or other liquid, usually with soap, detergent, or bleach, by immersing, dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing.
  • intransitive verb To soak, rinse out, and remove (dirt or stain) with water or other liquid.
  • intransitive verb To make moist or wet; drench.
  • intransitive verb To flow over, against, or past.
  • intransitive verb To carry, erode, remove, or destroy by the action of moving water.
  • intransitive verb To rid of corruption or guilt; cleanse or purify.
  • intransitive verb To cover or coat with a watery layer of paint or other coloring substance.
  • intransitive verb To purify (a gas) by passing through or over a liquid, as to remove soluble matter.
  • intransitive verb To pass a solvent, such as distilled water, through (a precipitate).
  • intransitive verb To separate constituents of (an ore) by immersion in or agitation with water.
  • intransitive verb To cause to undergo a swirling action.
  • intransitive verb To cleanse something in or by means of water or other liquid.
  • intransitive verb To undergo washing without fading or other damage.
  • intransitive verb Informal To hold up under examination; be convincing.
  • intransitive verb To flow, sweep, or beat with a characteristic lapping sound.
  • intransitive verb To be carried away, removed, or drawn by the action of water.
  • noun The act or process of washing or cleansing.
  • noun A quantity of articles washed or intended for washing.
  • noun Waste liquid; swill.
  • noun Fermented liquid from which liquor is distilled.
  • noun A preparation or product used in washing or coating.
  • noun A cosmetic or medicinal liquid, such as a mouthwash.
  • noun A thin layer of watercolor or India ink spread on a drawing.
  • noun A light tint or hue.
  • noun A rush or surge of water or waves.
  • noun The sound of this rush or surge.
  • noun Removal or erosion of soil by the action of moving water.
  • noun A deposit of recently eroded debris.
  • noun Low or marshy ground washed by tidal waters.
  • noun A stretch of shallow water.
  • noun Western US The dry bed of a stream.
  • noun Turbulence in air or water caused by the motion or action of an oar, propeller, jet, or airfoil.
  • noun Informal An activity, action, or enterprise that yields neither marked gain nor marked loss.
  • adjective Used for washing.
  • adjective Being such that washing is possible; washable.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English washen, from Old English wacsan, wæscan; see wed- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English washen, waschen, weschen, from Old English wascan, wæscan ("to wash, cleanse, bathe, lave"), from Proto-Germanic *waskanan, *watskanan (“to wash, get wet”), from Proto-Indo-European *wod- (“wet; water”). Cognate with Dutch wassen, wasschen ("to wash"), German waschen ("to wash"), Danish vaske ("to wash"), Swedish vaska ("to wash"), Icelandic vaska ("to wash").


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  • I absolutely hate it with a burning passion when people say warsh. Ughhhh...

    November 2, 2007

  • It's a regional thing. Warsh is more commonly heard than wash in north central Illinois. At least in my own personal experience.

    My grandma always said warsh, so I'm rather fond of it, myself.

    November 2, 2007

  • I think that "warsh' for "wash" is just a manifestation of the universal law of conservation of consonants. All those 'r's gone AWOL from pahking the cah in Hahvahd yahd had to show up somewhere. It is believed that they heeded Horace Greeley's exhortation to "go west", following the manifest destiny of consonants, and ended up in Illinois.

    November 2, 2007

  • *sound of jaw hitting the floor in rapt amazement*

    November 2, 2007

  • Of course! The universal law of conservation of consonants. Clearly I need to page through my grade school texts as a refresher; I'd completely forgotten it. ;)

    November 2, 2007

  • I know lots of people from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana who say "warsh." Also some from western Virginia--Roanoke area.

    It annoys me because they also say "George Warshington," which is just... come on. That blows.

    November 2, 2007

  • It's also a classic Pittsburgh-ism, so some of those consonants didn't migrate as far as Ohio. :-)

    November 2, 2007

  • I've never heard "George Warshington" before. Shoosh, that's funny.

    November 3, 2007

  • Nigerian English - Use a newly acquired item for the first time. If new car is bought washing includes prayer for safe travelling after which drinks are served.

    September 17, 2008