Where it’s found: “A Lover’s Complaint”
How it’s used:
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season’d woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish’d woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.
Where it comes from: I’ve covered a lot of Shakespeare’s plays on this blog, but never his poetry. Fortunately, he was just as prolific in his poems as he was in his scripts, and so we have our first example from a poem: launder.
Launder is actually a contraction of the word lavender, which in French (as lavandier) meant “washer” and not the flower. The French stole the word from Latin, lavandria, ultimately coming from the word lavare, “to wash.” So the word launder is related to the word lave. The sense of “money laundering” didn’t arise until the 1960s. [source]