I mean like in the following sentence made up by me:

XYZ washed science sceptics and flat-earthers together.

Here, "washed together" would mean "conflate", with the conditions that science sceptics and flat-earthers are not the same group, but XYZ wants them to look like they are one group.
I don't know if this meaning doesn't exist or there are just too many results about clothes and that's why I can't find any related examples by internet search.

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    to wash together is usually for actual clothes, people or things. One idiom is: put x and y in the same basket.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 16 at 13:27
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    We can tar two things with the same brush, if you mean say they have the same faults or bad qualities. Commented Mar 16 at 13:29
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    The word "washed" (as in launder) would be taken metaphorically. The science-sceptics and the flat-earthers are made of similar "fabric". But it's not an established idiom. I don't see any malevolence, unless you hear in "washed" echoes of The Great Flood.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 16 at 13:34
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    I've voted to close the question. When you "make up" a sentence, you must have a meaning in mind. So what is the meaning that you want to convey. Perhaps there is context that will help understand what your metaphor is. As it is, I don't know what "they" refers to, or how you metaphorically imagine "they" can wash these people together. Perhaps you mean that the sceptics and flat earthers were put in contact and so some ideas from one transferred to the others. Since you made it up, it is not common figure of speech. This needs more details and more context.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 16 at 14:14
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    I su;ggest "... they conflated ..." Commented Mar 16 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


When you use a metaphor, it should carry meaning from sense to another. When you wash shirts and socks together, you don't "conflate" them. So there isn't the sense of "conflate" to carry across. So this doesn't work as figurative language.

To me "washed together" would allude to the way that colours can "run" in the wash, and the colour of a red sock (for example) could transfer to a white shirt, making it pink. This could carry across to the metaphorical sense of ideas and beliefs of one group transferring to another.

There are other phrases such as "lump together" "put in the same basket" or just use the more formal "conflate".

  • OK, now I see that this can't have the meaning in English as in Hungarian: there it can mean that one wants to make believe that a thing is like another thing, as in your example: coloures can "run" in the wash, and the white shirt turns into not just pink but red (well, theoretically at least). Commented Mar 16 at 17:28
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    @DávidLaczkó - Often, the red shirt becomes less red, and the white one more so. The change can be mutual. People, or groups of people can cross-fertilise each other with ideas. Commented Mar 16 at 22:04
  • @MichaelHarvey Definitely, that's another way of using the phrase. Commented Mar 17 at 8:48

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