1. tv. to make something look better than it really is; to conceal something bad. Now, don’t try to whitewash this incident. Open up about it.
2. n. an act or campaign of covering up something bad. They tried to give the scandal the old whitewash, but it didn’t work.
A glossing over of bad conduct, dishonesty, or other misdeeds. Using clean paint as a metaphor for concealing misconduct dates at least from the early eighteenth century. “The greater part of whitewashing is done with ink,” wrote George D. Prentice (Prenticeana, 1860).