Hot wash

Yet another possibility is that the source is a more figurative use of “wash,” specifically in the sense found in the phrase “to come out in the wash,” which first appeared in print in the early 1900s meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “(of the truth) to be revealed, become clear; (of a situation, events, etc.) to be resolved or put right eventually.” The “wash” in “come out in the wash” is a metaphorical laundering process, and that figurative sense of “wash” may play a role in “hot wash.”

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6 comments on this post.
  1. Alex:

    The term “wash up meeting” is often used to refer to a meeting held when a project is finished. Used to discuss how the project went, and such like. So it is possible the terms “hot wash up” and “cold wash up” derived from that.

  2. Alex:

    Oh, and it sounds like your Derecho response was more of a hog-wash than a hot-wash :-)

  3. Steve Dunham:

    Thanks for this column. I’ve edited a lot of government documents that referred to a “hot wash” (poor Steve!), and though I gathered something of the meaning from the context, my searches for a definition led only to discussions of laundry.

    Your comment “Thanks a lot, Weather Gods” reminds me of Stephen Crane’s story “The Open Boat” and his desire to throw bricks at the temple of nature, and being even angrier because there is no temple to throw bricks at.

  4. Rafael Macias:

    I’m fairly certain it is an naval aviation term referring to the cleaning of the jet turbines immediately upon the return of helicopters and jets to the ship. Salt spray becomes encrusted quickly if it the procedure is not done before the turbines cool down.
    It then became a term used by military leadership to refer to a debrief immediately upon the completion of a mission or exercise to maximize its effectiveness while the information was still fresh in the minds of the participants. Get it while it’s hot.

  5. post-christmas wash-up? | carys davies porcelain:

    […] a good definition online, but in searching for it, found some interesting blogs and forums, like the word detective, who has the most interesting explanation, as an aside in the discussion of hot wash, a […]

  6. Brent:

    Wikipedia (Hotwash) gives the origin of the word as the following (from a DoD schools newsletter):

    The term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing. While this practice by no means eliminates the need to properly break down the weapon later for cleaning, it removes the major debris and ensures the cleaning process goes more smoothly. One infantry soldier described it as “the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.”

    I don’t recall the term from when I was in the Army in the early ’90s, but I definitely would’ve appreciated anything that made cleaning an M-16 easier…

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