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[klenz] /klɛnz/
verb (used with object), cleansed, cleansing.
to make clean.
to remove by or as if by cleaning:
to cleanse sin from the soul.
verb (used without object), cleansed, cleansing.
to become clean.
Origin of cleanse
before 900; Middle English clensen, Old English clǣnsian, equivalent to clǣne clean + -si- v. suffix + -an infinitive suffix
Related forms
cleansable, adjective
recleanse, verb (used with object), recleansed, recleansing.
uncleansable, adjective
uncleansed, adjective
well-cleansed, adjective
Can be confused
clean, cleanse (see synonym study at clean)
1. See clean. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cleanse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To cleanse the head from lice, rub the scalp and saturate the hair with kerosene.

    Campward Ho! Unknown
  • We have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify, and that the Earth is mother to us all.

    De Profundis Oscar Wilde
  • She knelt, and began to wash the grime from his face, to cleanse the wound on his head, and readjust the bandage.

    The Heart of Thunder Mountain Edfrid A. Bingham
  • That my tears must cleanse a foul nation, my lamb be a sacrifice?

  • Matara said, 'When we find them we shall kill her first to cleanse the dishonour—then the man must die.'

    Tales of Unrest Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for cleanse


verb (transitive)
to remove dirt, filth, etc, from
to remove guilt from
to remove a group of people from (an area) by means of ethnic cleansing
Derived Forms
cleansable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English clǣnsian; related to Middle Low German klēnsen; see clean
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cleanse

Old English clænsian "to cleanse, purge, purify, chasten, justify," from West Germanic *klainson, from *klainoz (see clean (adj.)). Despite its modern spelling (16c.), it retains its Middle English pronunciation. Related: Cleansed; cleansing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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