Definitions

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

  • transitive & intransitive verb To make or become white or whiter, especially by bleaching.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To become white; turn white; bleach: as, the sea whitens with foam.
  • To make white; bleach; blanch; whitewash: as, to whiten cloth; to whiten a wall.
  • Synonyms Whiten, Bleach, Blanch, Etiolate. Whiten may be a general word for making white, but is chiefly used for the putting of a white coating upon a surface: as, a wall whitened by the application of lime; the sea, whitened by the wind. White for whiten is old-fashioned or Biblical. Bleach and blanch express the act of making white by removal, change, or destruction of color. Bleaching is done chemically or by exposure to light and air: as, to bleach linen or bones. Blanching is a natural process: celery and other plants are blanched or etiolated by excluding light from them; cheeks are blanched by fear, when the blood retires from their capillaries and leaves them pale. See also defs. 5 and 6 under blanch.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To grow white; to turn or become white or whiter
  • transitive verb To make white; to bleach; to blanch; to whitewash.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To make white or whiter; to bleach or blanch.
  • verb intransitive To become white or whiter; to bleach or blanch.

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

  • verb turn white

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English whitenen, whitnen, from Old Norse hvítna ("to whiten"), from Proto-Germanic *hwītnōnan (“to whiten, become white”), from Proto-Indo-European *kwind-, *kwint- (“bright”), equivalent to white +‎ -en. Cognate with Icelandic hvítna ("to whiten"), Swedish vitna, hvitna ("to whiten"), Danish hvidne ("to whiten"). Compare Old English hwītian ("to whiten, become white, be white, make white").

Examples

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