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white +‎ wash


  • IPA(key): /ˈwaɪtwɒʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪtwɒʃ


whitewash (countable and uncountable, plural whitewashes)

  1. A lime and water mixture for painting walls and fences bright white.
    • 1952, L. F. Salzman, Building in England, page 157:
      For walls plaster gave a smooth white surface; or if it was not sufficiently white, or had become discoloured, it could be brightened up with a coat of whitewash or paint.
  2. (sports) A complete victory or series of victories without suffering any losses; a clean sweep.
    • 2010, Andrew Miller, Cricinfo:
      For the first time in a long time, Australia are being threatened with the prospect of a 5-0 whitewash
  3. (politics) A campaign to paper over unfavorable elements; (everyday life) pretense.
    Antonym: blackwash
    Coordinate term: eyewash
    • 2018 January 24, Hannah Beech, Rick Gladstone, “Citing ‘Whitewash,’ Bill Richardson Quits Rohingya Post”, in New York Times[1]:
      “She has developed an arrogance of power,” Mr. Richardson said by telephone during a layover in Tokyo on his way back to New Mexico from Myanmar. “I’ve known her a long time and am fond of her, but she basically is unwilling to listen to bad news, and I don’t want to be part of a whitewash.”
    • 2019 June 13, Kalyeena Makortoff, “FCA report into RBS called a 'complete whitewash' by critics”, in The Guardian[2]:
      A report by the City watchdog into the scandal at Royal Bank of Scotland’s turnaround unit has been described as a whitewash after the regulator confirmed it would not punish the bank for mistreating business customers following the financial crash.
  4. (cooking) The most basic type of thickening agent, flour blended with water to make a paste.
  5. (obsolete) Any liquid composition for whitening something, such as a wash for making the skin fair.
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, The Guardian:
      I have heard a whole Sermon against a White-wash.
  6. (UK, slang, obsolete) A glass of sherry as a finale, after drinking port and claret.
    • 1883, Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, page lxxxiii:
      The bottles, however, were port bottles, but contained mushroom ketchup; and we can only say with regard to the 15s. sherry, that it would have made an admirable "whitewash," as Sheridan's glass is still sometimes called, []
    • 1950, Wine & the Wine Trade, page 28:
      Sercial was also used as a sort of white-wash after the Port at dinner, those were the days when people had time to drink both Port and a White wash.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  • (glass of sherry): 1873, John Camden Hotten, The Slang Dictionary


whitewash (third-person singular simple present whitewashes, present participle whitewashing, simple past and past participle whitewashed)

  1. To paint over with a lime and water mixture so as to brighten up a wall or fence.
    The houses looked very bright when they whitewashed the whole neighborhood.
  2. (figurative) To cover over errors or bad actions.
    Synonyms: cover up; gloss over; paper over
    Antonym: blackwash
    In his sermon, the minister didn't try to whitewash over the sins of his church.
    • 2015 November 12, Se-Woong Koo, “South Korea’s Textbook Whitewash”, in New York Times[3]:
      The books have yet to be written. But there is no question that Ms. Park and her Saenuri Party will whitewash the past to bolster the conservative cause at the expense of the education system and South Korea’s international reputation as a democracy, and harm Seoul’s attempt to hold Japan accountable for its wartime conduct.
  3. (dated, transitive) To repay the financial debts of (another person).
    • 1836, Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers 43:
      Meanwhile, Sam, having been formally introduced to the whitewashed gentleman and his friends, as the offspring of Mr. Weller, of the Belle Savage, was treated with marked distinction, and invited to regale himself with them in honour of the occasion—an invitation which he was by no means backward in accepting.
  4. (baseball, slang, dated, late, 19th century, archaic) To prevent a team from scoring any runs.
  5. (US, UK, slang) In various games, to defeat (an opponent) so that they fail to score, or to reach a certain point in the game; to skunk.
  6. (derogatory) To make over (a person or character, a group, an event, etc) so that it is or seems more white, for example by applying makeup to a person, or by discounting the participation of people of color in an event and focusing on only white participation.
    • 2015 June 8, Ernest Owens, “Hollywood, Don't You Dare Whitewash Stonewall”, in HuffPost[4]:
      If you appreciate historical accuracy and fair inclusion, don’t go see this film. If you don’t want to fuel the economy at another Hollywood attempt of whitewashing American history, don’t give any aspect of this film a single dime or promotion.
    • 2017 March 31, Steve Rose, “Ghost in the Shell’s whitewashing: does Hollywood have an Asian problem?”, in The Guardian[5]:
      From Scarlett Johansson’s heroine in the remake of the anime classic to Tilda Swinton as a Himalayan high priest in Doctor Strange, the film industry stands accused of whitewashing Asian characters and culture. Does it have a defence?
    • 2019 January 23, Justin McCurry, “Naomi Osaka sponsor apologises for 'whitewashing' tennis star in ad”, in The Guardian[6]:
      The ad, which also features her compatriot Kei Nishikori, drew criticism on social media, with many users accusing Nissin of whitewashing Osaka, whose mother is Japanese.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.