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

  • transitive v. To cleanse, using water or other liquid, usually with soap, detergent, or bleach, by immersing, dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing: wash one's hands; wash windows.
  • transitive v. To soak, rinse out, and remove (dirt or stain) with or as if with water: wash grease out of overalls.
  • transitive v. To make moist or wet; drench: Tears washed the child's cheeks.
  • transitive v. To flow over, against, or past: waves that washed the sandy shores.
  • transitive v. To carry, erode, remove, or destroy by the action of moving water: Heavy rains washed the topsoil away.
  • transitive v. To rid of corruption or guilt; cleanse or purify: wash sins away.
  • transitive v. To cover or coat with a watery layer of paint or other coloring substance.
  • transitive v. Chemistry To purify (a gas) by passing through or over a liquid, as to remove soluble matter.
  • transitive v. Chemistry To pass a solvent, such as distilled water, through (a precipitate).
  • transitive v. To separate constituents of (an ore) by immersion in or agitation with water.
  • transitive v. To cause to undergo a swirling action: washed the tea around in the cup.
  • intransitive v. To cleanse something in or by means of water or other liquid.
  • intransitive v. To undergo washing without fading or other damage: This fabric will wash.
  • intransitive v. Informal To hold up under examination; be convincing: "That [proclamation], of course, will not wash” ( John Hughes).
  • intransitive v. To flow, sweep, or beat with a characteristic lapping sound: Waves washed over the pilings.
  • intransitive v. To be carried away, removed, or drawn by the action of water.
  • n. The act or process of washing or cleansing.
  • n. A quantity of articles washed or intended for washing: The wash is on the back porch.
  • n. Waste liquid; swill.
  • n. Fermented liquid from which liquor is distilled.
  • n. A preparation or product used in washing or coating.
  • n. A cosmetic or medicinal liquid, such as a mouthwash.
  • n. A thin layer of watercolor or India ink spread on a drawing.
  • n. A light tint or hue: "a wash of red sunset” ( Thomas Pynchon).
  • n. A rush or surge of water or waves.
  • n. The sound of this rush or surge.
  • n. Removal or erosion of soil by the action of moving water.
  • n. A deposit of recently eroded debris.
  • n. Low or marshy ground washed by tidal waters.
  • n. A stretch of shallow water.
  • n. Western U.S. The dry bed of a stream.
  • n. Turbulence in air or water caused by the motion or action of an oar, propeller, jet, or airfoil.
  • n. Informal An activity, action, or enterprise that yields neither marked gain nor marked loss: "[The company] doesn't do badly. That is, it's a wash” ( Harper's).
  • adj. Used for washing.
  • adj. Being such that washing is possible; washable.
  • wash down To clean by washing with water from top to bottom: wash down the walls.
  • wash down To follow the ingestion of (food, for example) with the ingestion of a liquid: washed the cake down with coffee.
  • wash out To remove or be removed by washing.
  • wash out To cause to fade by laundering: color that had been washed out by bleach.
  • wash out To carry or wear away or be carried or worn away by the action of moving water: The river rose and washed out the dam. The road has washed out five miles down the mountain.
  • wash out To deplete or become depleted of vitality: By evening, I was washed out from overwork.
  • wash out To eliminate or be eliminated as unsatisfactory: a football player who was washed out; an officer candidate who washed out after one month.
  • wash out To cause (an event) to be rained out.
  • wash up To wash one's hands.
  • wash up Chiefly British To wash dishes after a meal.
  • wash up To burn out; exhaust: all washed up as a politician.
  • idiom come out in the wash Slang To be revealed eventually: The real reasons for her resignation will come out in the wash.
  • idiom come out in the wash Slang To turn out well in the end: Don't worry: this project will come out in the wash.
  • idiom wash (one's) hands of To refuse to accept responsibility for.
  • idiom wash (one's) hands of To abandon; renounce.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To clean with water.
  • v. To move by the force of water in motion
  • v. To separate valuable material (such as gold) from worthless material by the action of flowing water.
  • v. To clean oneself with water.
  • v. To be eroded or carried away by the action of water.
  • v. To be cogent, convincing; to withstand critique.
  • n. The process or an instance of washing or being washed by water or other liquid.
  • n. A liquid used for washing.
  • n. The quantity of clothes washed at a time.
  • n. A smooth and translucent painting created using a paintbrush holding a large amount of solvent and a small amount of paint.
  • n. The sound of breaking of the seas, e.g., on the shore.
  • n. The wake of a moving ship.
  • n. The turbulence left in the air by a moving airplane.
  • n. A lotion or other liquid with medicinal or hygienic properties.
  • n. Ground washed away to the sea or a river.
  • n. A shallow body of water.
  • n. In arid and semi-arid regions, the normally dry bed of an intermittent or ephemeral stream; an arroyo; wadi
  • n. Something where no progress is made, where nothing changes; a washout.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Washy; weak.
  • adj. Capable of being washed without injury; washable.
  • n. The act of washing; an ablution; a cleansing, wetting, or dashing with water; hence, a quantity, as of clothes, washed at once.
  • n. A piece of ground washed by the action of a sea or river, or sometimes covered and sometimes left dry; the shallowest part of a river, or arm of the sea; also, a bog; a marsh; a fen.
  • n. Substances collected and deposited by the action of water
  • n. Waste liquid, the refuse of food, the collection from washed dishes, etc., from a kitchen, often used as food for pigs.
  • n.
  • n. The fermented wort before the spirit is extracted.
  • n. A mixture of dunder, molasses, water, and scummings, used in the West Indies for distillation.
  • n. That with which anything is washed, or wetted, smeared, tinted, etc., upon the surface.
  • n. A liquid cosmetic for the complexion.
  • n. A liquid dentifrice.
  • n. A liquid preparation for the hair.
  • n. A medical preparation in a liquid form for external application; a lotion.
  • n. A thin coat of color, esp. water color.
  • n. A thin coat of metal applied in a liquid form on any object, for beauty or preservation; -- called also washing.
  • n.
  • n. The blade of an oar, or the thin part which enters the water.
  • n. The backward current or disturbed water caused by the action of oars, or of a steamer's screw or paddles, etc.
  • n. The flow, swash, or breaking of a body of water, as a wave; also, the sound of it.
  • n. Ten strikes, or bushels, of oysters.
  • n.
  • n. Gravel and other rock débris transported and deposited by running water; coarse alluvium.
  • n. An alluvial cone formed by a stream at the base of a mountain.
  • n. The dry bed of an intermittent stream, sometimes at the bottom of a cañon; ; -- called also dry wash.
  • n. The upper surface of a member or material when given a slope to shed water. Hence, a structure or receptacle shaped so as to receive and carry off water, as a carriage wash in a stable.
  • n. an action or situation in which the gains and losses are equal, or closely compensate each other.
  • n. the disturbance of the air left behind in the wake of a moving airplane or one of its parts.
  • intransitive v. To perform the act of ablution.
  • intransitive v. To clean anything by rubbing or dipping it in water; to perform the business of cleansing clothes, ore, etc., in water.
  • intransitive v. To bear without injury the operation of being washed.
  • intransitive v. To be wasted or worn away by the action of water, as by a running or overflowing stream, or by the dashing of the sea; -- said of road, a beach, etc.
  • intransitive v. To use washes, as for the face or hair.
  • intransitive v. To move with a lapping or swashing sound, or the like; to lap; splash.
  • intransitive v. to be accepted as true or valid; to be proven true by subsequent evidence; -- usually used in the negative.
  • transitive v. To cleanse by ablution, or dipping or rubbing in water; to apply water or other liquid to for the purpose of cleansing; to scrub with water, etc., or as with water
  • transitive v. To cover with water or any liquid; to wet; to fall on and moisten; hence, to overflow or dash against.
  • transitive v. To waste or abrade by the force of water in motion.
  • transitive v. To remove by washing to take away by, or as by, the action of water; to drag or draw off as by the tide; -- often with away, off, out, etc..
  • transitive v. To cover with a thin or watery coat of color; to tint lightly and thinly.
  • transitive v. To overlay with a thin coat of metal.
  • transitive v. To cause dephosphorisation of (molten pig iron) by adding substances containing iron oxide, and sometimes manganese oxide.
  • transitive v. To pass (a gas or gaseous mixture) through or over a liquid for the purpose of purifying it, esp. by removing soluble constituents.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In chem., to purity (a gas) by causing (it) to bubble through water, or some other liquid, or some special solution, by means of which foreign substances are removed. Thus hydrogen gas may be washed free of sulphureted hydrogen by passing it through a solution of lead acetate.
  • To subject, as stock, to a wash or fictitious sale. See wash, n., 14.
  • To both sell and buy the same stock at the same time.
  • To apply a liquid, especially water, to for the purpose of cleansing; scrub, scour, or cleanse in or with water or other liquid; free from impurities by ablution: as, to wash the hands and face; to wash linen; to wash the floor; to wash dishes.
  • Hence, to free from ceremonial defilement, or from the stains of guilt, sin, or corruption; purify.
  • To wet copiously, as with water or other liquid; moisten; cover with moisture.
  • To lap: lave, as by surrounding water; surround; overflow or dash over or against; sweep, as with flowing water.
  • To remove by ablution or by the cleansing action of water; dispel by or as by washing: either literally or figuratively: used with away, off, out, etc.
  • To overwhelm and carry along (in some specified direction) by or as by a rush of water: as, a man washed overboard; debris washed up by the storm; roast beef washed down with ale.
  • To cover with a watery or thin coat of color; tint lightly, thinly, or evenly, in water-color, with a pigment so mixed as to be very fluid and rapidly and smoothly applied.
  • To overlay with a thin coat or deposit of metal: as, to wash copper or brass with gold.
  • In mining, metal., etc., to separate from the earthy and lighter matters by the action of water: as, to wash gold; to wash ores.
  • To perform the act of ablution on one's own person.
  • To cleanse clothes in or with water.
  • To stand the operation of washing without being destroyed, spoiled, or injured: said both of fabrics and of dyes: as, a dress that will not wash; colors that do not wash well.
  • Hence, to stand being put to the proof; stand the test: prove genuine, reliable, trust-worthy, capable, or fit, when submitted to trial.
  • To be eroded, as by a stream, by rainfall, etc.
  • To use washes or cosmetics.
  • To make a swish, swash, or swirl of the water: as, the shad are washing. See shad-wash.
  • Washy; weak; easily losing its qualities.
  • n. A stony or gravelly slope of gentle declivity formed of debris washed from mountains by occasional torrential rains.
  • n. An eroded or washed-out depression.
  • n. The dry bed of an intermittent stream.
  • n. An abbreviation of Washington (State).
  • n. The act or operation of cleansing by the application of water; a cleansing with water or other liquid: as, to give one's face a wash.
  • n. Articles in the course of being cleansed by washing, or the quantity of clothes or other articles washed on one occasion.
  • n. The flow or sweep of a body of water; the onward rush of water as its billows break upon the shore; the dash or break of waves upon a shore.
  • n. The rough or broken water left behind by a vessel as it moves along: as, the wash of the steamer nearly filled the boat.
  • n. The licking or lapping noise made by rippling water as it comes in contact with a boat, a pier, the strand, or the like; the swish-swash of water disturbed as by wind or by ebb or flow.
  • n. A piece of ground washed by the action of the sea or river, or sometimes overflowed and sometimes left dry; a shallow part of a river or arm of the sea; also, a morass or marsh; a bog; a fen; a quagmire.
  • n. Substances collected and deposited by the action of water, such as alluvium.
  • n. Waste liquor containing the refuse of food, collected from the cleansed dishes, etc., of a kitchen, such as is often given to pigs; swill or swillings.
  • n. In distilling:
  • n. The fermented wort, from which the spirit is extracted.
  • n. A mixture of dunder, molasses, scummings, and water, used in the West Indies for distillation.
  • n. A liquid used for application to a surface or a body to cleanse it, color it, or the like—especially a thin and watery liquid, as distinguished from one that is glutinous or oily.
  • n. In medicine, a lotion.
  • n. A thin even coating of color spread over a surface, as of a painting. See def. 11.
  • n. In zoology, a light or slight surface-coloration, as if laid over a ground-color; a superficial tone or tinge: as, a frosty wash over black.
  • n. A thin coat of metal applied to anything for beauty or preservation.
  • n. In water-color painting, the application of a pigment so mixed as to be in a very fluid condition, or a coat so applied.
  • n. The blade of an oar.
  • n. A measure of shell-fish; a stamped measure capable of holding 21 quarts and a pint of water.
  • n. A fictitious kind of sale, disallowed on the stock and other exchanges, in which a broker who has received orders from one person to buy and from another person to sell a particular amount or quantity of some particular stock or commodity simply transfers the stock or commodity from one principal to the other and pockets the difference, instead of executing both orders separately to the best advantage in each ease, as is required by the rules of the different exchanges.
  • n. That which is moved by the force of rain; a deposit formed by rain.
  • n. Bates's camphorated water, made by adding copper sulphate, Armenian bole, and camphor to boiling water, and then straining.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. to cleanse (itself or another animal) by licking
  • v. move by or as if by water
  • v. cleanse (one's body) with soap and water
  • v. be capable of being washed
  • n. a thin coat of water-base paint
  • n. the erosive process of washing away soil or gravel by water (as from a roadway)
  • v. wash or flow against
  • v. make moist
  • n. the work of cleansing (usually with soap and water)
  • n. the flow of air that is driven backwards by an aircraft propeller
  • v. form by erosion
  • v. apply a thin coating of paint, metal, etc., to
  • v. remove by the application of water or other liquid and soap or some other cleaning agent
  • n. any enterprise in which losses and gains cancel out
  • v. admit to testing or proof
  • v. separate dirt or gravel from (precious minerals)
  • n. a watercolor made by applying a series of monochrome washes one over the other
  • n. garments or white goods that can be cleaned by laundering
  • n. the dry bed of an intermittent stream (as at the bottom of a canyon)
  • v. cleanse with a cleaning agent, such as soap, and water
  • v. clean with some chemical process


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

Middle English washen, from Old English wacsan, wæscan; see wed-1 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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  • 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

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

    November 3, 2007

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

    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

  • 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

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

    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

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

    November 2, 2007