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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English bleche (also bleke), from Old English blǣċ, blǣc, variants of Old English blāc (bright, shining, glittering, flashing; bleak, pale, pallid, wan, livid), from Proto-Germanic *blaikaz (pale, shining). More at bleak.


bleach (comparative bleacher or more bleach, superlative bleachest or most bleach)

  1. (archaic) Pale; bleak.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English blechen, from Old English blǣċan (to bleach, whiten), from Proto-Germanic *blaikijaną, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (to shine). Cognate with Dutch bleken (to bleach), German bleichen (to bleach), Danish blege, Swedish bleka (to bleach). Related to Old English blāc (pale) (English blake; compare also bleak).


bleach (third-person singular simple present bleaches, present participle bleaching, simple past and past participle bleached)

  1. (transitive) To treat with bleach, especially so as to whiten (fabric, paper, etc.) or lighten (hair).
    • Ure
      The destruction of the colouring matters attached to the bodies to be bleached is effected either by the action of the air and light, of chlorine, or of sulphurous acid.
    • Smollett
      Immortal liberty, whose look sublime / Hath bleached the tyrant's cheek in every varying clime.
  2. (intransitive, biology, of corals) to lose color due to stress-induced expulsion of symbiotic unicellular algae.
    Once coral bleaching begins, corals tend to continue to bleach even if the stressor is removed.
  3. (transitive, figuratively) To make meaningless; to divest of meaning; to make empty.
    semantically bleached words that have become illocutionary particles


bleach (countable and uncountable, plural bleaches)

  1. (uncountable) A chemical, such as sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide, or a preparation of such a chemical, used for disinfecting or whitening.
  2. (countable) A variety of bleach.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English bleche, from Old English blǣċu, blǣċo (paleness, pallor), from Proto-Germanic *blaikį̄ (paleness).


bleach (plural bleaches)

  1. An act of bleaching; exposure to the sun.

Etymology 4Edit

From Middle English bleche, from Old English blǣċe (irritation of the skin, leprosy; psoriasis).


bleach (plural bleaches)

  1. A disease of the skin.