c. 1400, transitive, "to make white, cause to turn pale," from Old French blanchir "to whiten, wash," from blanc "white" (11c.; see blank (adj.)). In early use also "to whitewash" a building, "to remove the hull of (almonds, etc.) by soaking." Intransitive sense of "to turn white" is from 1768. Related: Blanched; blanching.
"to start back, shrink, turn aside," 1570s, variant of blench (q.v.). Related: Blanched; blanching.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white" and forming words for bright colors.
It forms all or part of: beluga; Beltane; black; blancmange; blanch; blank; blanket; blaze (n.1) "bright flame, fire;" bleach; bleak; blemish; blench; blende; blend; blind; blindfold; blitzkrieg; blond; blue (adj.1); blush; conflagration; deflagration; effulgence; effulgent; flagrant; flambe; flambeau; flamboyant; flame; flamingo; flammable; Flavian; Flavius; fulgent; fulminate; inflame; inflammable; phlegm; phlegmatic; phlogiston; phlox; purblind; refulgent; riboflavin.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bhrajate "shines;" Greek phlegein "to burn;" Latin flamma "flame," fulmen "lightning," fulgere "to shine, flash," flagrare "to burn, blaze, glow;" Old Church Slavonic belu "white;" Lithuanian balnas "pale."
"turn (a plant) white by growing it in darkness," 1791, from French étiolé, past participle of étioler "to blanch" (17c.), perhaps literally "to become like straw," from Norman dialect étule "a stalk," Old French esteule "straw, field of stubble," from Latin stipula "straw" (see stipule). Related: Etiolated.
early 13c., "white, pale, colorless," from Old French blanc "white, shining," from Frankish *blank "white, gleaming," or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse blakkr, Old English blanca "white horse;" Old High German blanc, blanch; German blank "shining, bright"). This is reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *blangkaz "to shine, dazzle," an extended form of PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."
The meaning "having empty spaces" is attested from c. 1400. The sense of "void of expression" (a blank look) is from 1550s. Spanish blanco, Italian bianco are said to be from Germanic. Related: Blankly, blankness.
fem. proper name, from French Blanche, from Old French blanc "white," a word of Germanic origin (see blank (adj.)). A fairly popular name for girls born in the U.S. from about 1880 to 1900.
1707, "paper duly authenticated by a signature and otherwise blank, left to someone to be filled in at his discretion," French, literally "white paper," from carte (see card (n.1)) + blanche, from Old French blanc "white," a word of Germanic origin (see blank (adj.)). The figurative sense of "full discretionary power, unrestricted permission or authority in some manner" is from 1766. Compare the native blank check, used in the same figurative sense.