A reference to the practice of coating surfaces, such as walls and fences, in a mixture of lime and water called whitewash.
1. noun, informal An act or instance of concealing, glossing over, or suppressing something negative. Many people believe the government's report to be a whitewash of the true nature of the economy. Look, the people deserve the truth about what happened, not some whitewash!
2. verb, informal To conceal, gloss over, or suppress something negative. The CEO tried to whitewash the poor financial results at the investors' meeting. We have our suspicions that the police are whitewashing the suspect's death.
3. verb, slang To depict historical facts or events in a way that puts the actions of white people into greater focus or in a more favorable light compared to reality. I think it's important to teach the reality of what our ancestors did during that time. I know it's hard to hear, but we can't just whitewash the history of our country. The textbook has been accused of whitewashing several historical events by downplaying or ignoring the importance of people of color.
4. verb, slang To alter a piece of work, such as a novel, film, video game, etc., from its source material in order to be more palatable or appealing to white audiences, as by creating a stronger focus on, larger presence of, or more favorable depiction of white people. Often used in reference to the practice of casting a white actor in a film adaptation when their character's race has been established as non-white in the source material. There has been a huge outcry accusing the movie studio of trying to whitewash the adaptation of the Japanese manga. The 1916 film Intolerance is an early instance of whitewashing in Hollywood, with white actors portraying Babylonian and Persian kings
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer