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

  • transitive v. To remove the color from, as by means of chemical agents or sunlight.
  • transitive v. To make white or colorless.
  • intransitive v. To become white or colorless.
  • n. A chemical agent used for bleaching.
  • n. The act of bleaching.
  • n. The degree of bleaching obtained.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pale; bleak.
  • v. To treat with bleach, especially so as to whiten (fabric, paper, etc) or lighten (hair).
  • v. to lose color due to stress-induced expulsion of symbiotic unicellular algae.
  • n. A chemical, such as sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide, or a preparation of such a chemical, used for disinfecting or whitening.
  • n. A variety of bleach.
  • n. An act of bleaching; exposure to the sun.
  • n. A disease of the skin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To grow white or lose color; to whiten.
  • transitive v. To make white, or whiter; to remove the color, or stains, from; to blanch; to whiten.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make white or whiter by removing color; whiten; blanch; make pale; specifically, to whiten (as linen, etc.) by washing and exposure to the action of the air and sunlight, or by chemical preparations. See bleaching.
  • Synonyms Blanch, etc. See whiten.
  • To become white in any manner; become pale or colorless.
  • To become morally pure.
  • Pale.
  • Bleak.
  • n. A disease of the skin. Holland, tr. of Pliny.
  • n. An act of bleaching; exposure to the sun or other bleaching agency or influence.
  • n. Blacking; any substance used for blacking.
  • n. An abbreviation of ‘bleaching-powder,’ or chlorid of lime.

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

  • n. the act of whitening something by bleaching it (exposing it to sunlight or using a chemical bleaching agent)
  • n. an agent that makes things white or colorless
  • v. make whiter or lighter
  • n. the whiteness that results from removing the color from something
  • v. remove color from


Middle English blechen, from Old English blǣcan; see bhel-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlē- (“to shimmer, gleam, shine”). More at bleak. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English blechen, from Old English blǣċan ("to bleach, whiten"), from Proto-Germanic *blaikijanan, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (“to shine”). Cognate with Dutch bleken ("to bleach"), German bleichen ("to bleach"), Swedish bleka ("to bleach"). Related to Old English blāc ("pale"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English bleche, from Old English blǣċu, blǣċo ("paleness, pallor"), from Proto-Germanic *blaikīn (“paleness”). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English bleche, from Old English blǣċe ("irritation of the skin, leprosy; psoriasis"). (Wiktionary)



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  • A blow. Buchan (Scots) dialect.

    May 26, 2011