What does it mean by “washing up”?


about washing up

To wash up is a phrasal verb and can have a few different meanings in English.

In British English, this phrasal verb is most often used to refer to washing or cleaning the dishes (plates, bowls, glasses, cutlery, etc.) after a meal. Usually, whoever cooks the meal gets to avoid washing up!

In American English though, to wash up can be used to refer to the action of cleaning one’s face and/or hands. For example, it’s recommended to wash up before a meal, especially if you have been outside doing physical work during the day.

We can also use this phrasal verb when water, such as the sea, carries debris onto land such as the beach. Sometimes, especially when the sea is rough, the waves wash up jellyfish and other sea life on the beach.

Finally, if you haven’t seen a friend, a family member or an acquaintance for a long time and he/she arrives at your house unexpectedly one day, you can say that he/she washed up to your house. This means that they showed up without any warning or prior communication with you.

This is one phrase many native English speakers will grow up hearing from their parents. It means to clean cooking and eating utensils like pots and plates, or cleaning oneself. Here are a few ways to use it.

  • I am washing up for dinner.
  • They are washing up for supper.

Used in this form the person or people are cleaning themselves, such as washing their hands, before eating a meal.

  • Who is doing the washing up after dinner?
  • I am going to do the washing up.

This question and the following statement are about who will clean up the plates, pans, glasses, and dishes used after eating a meal.


Bathing your self

I very appreciate your reply! It was very helpful to me.

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