Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Blend of green (environmentally friendly) +‎ whitewash (or green +‎ -wash), 1980s.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɡɹiːnwɒʃ/
  • (file)


greenwash (plural greenwashes)

  1. A false or misleading picture of environmental friendliness used to conceal or obscure damaging activities.
    Coordinate terms: whitewash, bluewash
    • 2010, Meegan Jones, Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide, →ISBN, page 38:
      People can be cynical about companies hiding behind green ideals, their radars finely tuned to detect a greenwash.
    • 2020 November 9, Damian Carrington, “‘Hypocrites and greenwash’: Greta Thunberg blasts leaders over climate crisis”, in the Guardian[1], retrieved 2020-11-09:
      Greta Thunberg has blasted politicians as hypocrites and international climate summits as empty words and greenwash.



greenwash (third-person singular simple present greenwashes, present participle greenwashing, simple past and past participle greenwashed)

  1. To disseminate such information about (something).
    • 2011, Elaine Wellin, Kristen Seraphin, Project Censored, Censored 2012: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2010-11[2], →ISBN, Health and the Environment:
      But what happens more often is that media “greenwashes” dirty energy sources (coal, gas, nuclear power) as “clean”—a particularly dangerous notion because it belies the threat they pose to our planet and human health.
    • 2016 August 20, Bruce Watson, “The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashing”, in The Guardian[3]:
      The commercials were very effective – in 1990, they won an Effie advertising award, and subsequently became a case study at Harvard Business school. They also became notorious among environmentalists, who have proclaimed them the gold standard of greenwashing – the corporate practice of making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.


Related terms[edit]