Wash one’s hands of

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The roots of the idiom to wash one’s hands of something dates back thousands of years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the phrase wash one’s hands of, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To wash one’s hands of something means to refuse to take responsibility for something, to refuse to take the blame for the outcome of a certain situation, or to refuse to be involved with something any further. The idiom to wash one’s hands of something is derived from a story concerning Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judaea at the time of Jesus‘ trial. At the urging of the Sanhedrin, Pilate condemned Jesus to death, but not before he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” (Matthew 27:24, King James Version). Related phrases are washes one’s hands of, washed one’s hands of, washing one’s hands of.


The forced, tight-lipped smile of pity is another way of saying, ‘I’m washing my hands of this situaiton’. (The Irish Independent)

“For me, liberating myself from this Palme d’Or is a way of washing my hands of this sorry affair.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

“He (Parks) is set to retire, so he washed his hands of this and doesn’t care.” (The Missourian)

He continued: “David has washed his hands of Tracy by this point, and he’s lost the plot a bit and jumped into bed with Maya as a reaction to something that’s happened between them.” (The Daily Express)

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