Laundry list

Laundry list is an idiom that today rarely means an actual list of the things one needs to wash. Instead, it refers to a list that is lengthy, extensive, or inclusive of all possibilities. The items in the set are connected or related somehow, and there is a tediousness associated with the term. It is usually seen in the construction laundry list of, followed by the types of things on the list.

The plural for the term is laundry lists.


The original usage was in the 1960s in actual laundries. In those days it was uncommon to wash one’s clothes at home; and, in general, the clothing was more delicate and required more care. In order wash correctly and to charge the customer correctly, the clothing was sorted and marked on a laundry list. The list was an extensive sheet of possible clothing categories.


The reasons for challenging books read like a laundry list of America’s cultural anxieties. [The Washington Post]

Houston sat Dwight Howard while the Hornets were without a laundry list of players: Al Jefferson, Mo Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Lance Stephenson and P.J. Hairston. [Charlotte Sun Times]

Borges is one of a laundry list of high-profile opposition leaders recently accused of plotting to overthrow the government, and could be prosecuted if he loses his seat, and thus his legislative immunity. [The Telegraph]

A president’s joint session remarks are too formalized, too rigidly vetted across the broad spectrum of government agencies, to be more than eloquently spoken laundry lists of executive desires. [Newsweek]


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