late Old English wæsc "act of washing," from wash (v.). Meaning "clothes set aside to be washed" is attested from 1789; meaning "thin coat of paint" is recorded from 1690s; sense of "land alternately covered and exposed by the sea" is recorded from mid-15c.
Old English wascan "to wash, cleanse, bathe," transitive sense in late Old English, from Proto-Germanic *watskan "to wash" (source also of Old Norse vaska, Middle Dutch wasscen, Dutch wassen, German waschen), from PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet." Related: Washed; washing.
Used mainly of clothes in Old English (the principal verb for washing the body, dishes, etc. being þwean). Old French gaschier "to stain, soil; soak, wash" (Modern French gâcher) is from Frankish *waskan, from the same Germanic source. Italian guazzare also is a Germanic loan-word. To wash (one's) hands of something is 1550s, from Pilate in Matthew xxvii.24. To wash up "clean utensils after a meal" is from 1751. Washed up "no longer effective" is 1923, theater slang, from notion of washing up at the end of a job.
also washout, 1877, "act of washing out" (a drain, etc.), from verbal phrase; see wash (v.) + out (adv.). From 1873 as "excavation of a roadbed, etc., by erosion" is from 1873. Meaning "a disappointing failure" is from 1902, from verbal phrase wash out "obliterate, cancel" (something written in ink), attested from 1570s. Hence also the colloquial sense of "to call off (an event) due to bad weather, etc." (1917). Of colored material, washed-out "faded" is from 1837.