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Brainwash is a term coined in the latter half of the twentieth century. It is a closed compound word, which is a word composed of two words joined together without hyphens or spaces. We will examine the definition of the term brainwash, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Brainwash means to indoctrinate or pressure someone into accepting radically different beliefs and attitudes through a system of force. Brainwashing involves psychological techniques, and may be performed by cults, governments, captors and other persons in power. Brainwash is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are brainwashes, brainwashed, brainwashing. The word brainwash dates to the Korean War, when Chinese and Korean captors worked diligently to turn American prisoners of war on their country. The captors had very few successful results. The psychological term for brainwashing is thought reform, and may include torture, psychological games and sleep deprivation. Today, the term brainwash may be used to mean this extreme psychological phenomenon, but is often used to mean people who have been persuaded to champion something that the speaker deems unworthy of being championed.


The National Conference parliamentarian Farooq Abdullah, who was reelected as party president accused RSS of taking groups of youngsters from far flung villages of Valley to Nagpur and brainwash and train them as their agents. (The Economic Times)

A Malaysian journalist who went undercover to expose exploitation in Victoria’s fruit picking industry said workers were “brainwashed” with religion and trapped in debt to keep them on farms. (The Guardian)

But Secretary for the Civil Service Joshua Law Chi-kong said there was no room for “brainwashing” civil servants, echoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s stance. (The Hong Kong Standard)

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