Why Is A Washer Called A Washer?

Welcome to the article all about why is a washer called a washer? A washer is one of the most essential items in the home, with 95% of US households owning a washing machine.

But when it comes to the origins of its name, many don’t know the answer. Let’s explore the history of the washer and see why it came to be known as the washing machine.

After reading this article, you should have a greater understanding of the popular appliance and its namesake.

Why is a Washer Called a Washer?

In the world of machine parts and engineering, a ‘washer’ is actually a device used as a bearing surface, or a form of spacer to reduce friction or vibration. So it’s not just a simple ‘washer.

‘ This article will explain why this device is called a ‘washer. ‘


The term ‘washer’ is old fashioned, coming from the late 16th century and was derived from the late Middle English word ‘wassen,’ which means ‘to wash.

‘ The term ‘washer’ was also used for for an item washers used to do laundry such as a flat circular plate with a hole in the center and other shapes that serve a similar purpose.

A Simple Bearing Surface

Washers are used to spread the load of a threaded fastener, such as a nut or bolt, and evenly over a surface. This increases the strength of an assembly and helps reduce the risk of damage to the assembly or mounting surfaces, usually when used in conjunction with a nut or bolt.

It also prevents loosening of the fastener as it’s tightened and can also be used as a form of spacer to set the height of a fixture over a mounting surface.

Types of Washers

There are various types of washers depending on their application such as plain (or standard) washers, lock washers, spring washers, and flat washers.

Plain washers have no special features and are used to spread the load of a fastener, prevent occasion of the surface and for spacing. Lock washers are designed to prevent fastener loosening and keep the component firmly attached to the surface.

Spring washers are used to provide tension and resist loosening, available in both single and double coil configuration. Flat washers are used to provide a larger bearing area than the nut or screw head, and to prevent surface abrasion or damage.


In conclusion, the device known as a washer is so called because it ‘was’ used in traditional laundry activities, and still performs the function of a bearing surface or spacer in engineering and machine parts assembly.

The different types of washers serve different purposes depending on their application, but all perform the same function of preventing loosening, spreading the load and protecting the surface from damage. Citation URL’s:https://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/washerhttps://www. engineersedge. com/fasteners/washers. htmhttps://www. fastener-express. com/washersn10html

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