v. bleached, bleach·ing, bleach·es
a. To remove the color from, as by means of chemical agents or sunlight: Over time, the exposure to sunlight bleached the rug in front of the window.
b. To make white or colorless: Dawn bleached the mountains.
2. To whiten by causing the death or expulsion of algal symbionts from (coral).
1. To act as or use a bleach.
2. To become white as a result of the loss of algal symbionts, usually following an environmental stress such as increased water temperature. Used of coral.
1. A chemical agent used for bleaching.
a. The act of bleaching.
b. The degree of bleaching obtained.
[Middle English blechen, from Old English blǣcan; see bhel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.