Definition of clean in English:


Line breaks: clean
Pronunciation: /kliːn


  • 3Free from irregularities; having a smooth edge or surface: a clean fracture of the leg
    More example sentences
    • On the left is the smooth, clean surface of the new dam that has turned part of the Colorado River into a lake.
    • The patented coring tine cuts clean cores at the surface and shatters the soil below.
    • Also, wires, especially for gas metal-arc welding, must have clean, smooth surfaces.
  • 3.1Having a simple, well-defined, and pleasing shape: the clean lines and pared-down planes of modernism
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    • This urban contemporary collection keeps things in perspective with simple forms, clean lines and subtle shapes.
    • Linen looks best in simple shapes, with clean geometric lines.
    • The clean lines and the simple shapes are compelling in their quiet beauty and grace.
    simple, elegant, graceful, uncluttered, trim, shapely, unfussy, uncomplicated; streamlined, smooth, well defined, definite, clean-cut; regular, symmetrical
  • 3.2(Of an action) smoothly and skilfully done: he took a clean catch
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    • In the musicals, the performances were very clean, and flowed smoothly and the acting was natural and often sparked laughter.
    • A clean catch and drive provided the platform for a march to the line and the winning try.
    • It was a clean take-off, and he was airborne five minutes after starting his take-off run.
    neat, smooth, crisp, straight, accurate, precise, slick; British inch-perfect
  • 4(Of a taste, sound, or smell) giving a clear and distinctive impression to the senses; sharp and fresh: clean, fresh, natural flavours
    More example sentences
    • The stew was spiked with still-crisp bits of green pepper and onion, and had a clean taste of fresh vegetables.
    • The tamilok, its fans swear, has a fresh clean taste that sends shivers of pleasure down one's alimentary canal.
    • This simple natural Thai soup offers fresh clean flavours that fuse the taste that is Thai cuisine.


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  • 1So as to be free from dirt, marks, or unwanted matter: the room had been washed clean
    More example sentences
    • Soapy wash bags are also great for scrubbing the kids clean, and softening the skin at the same time.
    • Before entering the Wellington's special care baby unit they had to scrub their hands clean and cover themselves in protective overalls.
    • Once, he pressured someone into scrubbing his boots clean and moaned when he noticed one speck of mud on the bottom.


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[in singular] Back to top  
  • An act of cleaning something: he gave the room a clean
    More example sentences
    • For the quickest clean in every room of the house, choose from our favorite pairs.
    • To allow the work to take place, the service reservoir has been drained down temporarily, and engineers are using this opportunity to give it a routine clean.
    • Conservative councillors, who have been campaigning for a weekly clean, said they were dismayed by the decision and felt residents had been let down.


(as) clean as a whistle

clean and jerk

A weightlifting exercise in which a weight is raised above the head following an initial lift to shoulder level.
More example sentences
  • In weight-lifting, it recruits muscles that assist in the clean and jerk and the deadlift.
  • These dual actions allow you to move your upper body in a straight, upward pathway, which is critical in the deadlift and squat in powerlifting, and the snatch and the clean and jerk in weightlifting.
  • They're also used in the deadlift and squat events in powerlifting, and in the snatch and clean and jerk in weightlifting.

clean bill of health

clean someone's clock

North American informal
Give someone a beating: I assured her that if anything happened I would personally clean the Russian’s clock
More example sentences
  • I want names buster or I am going to come down there and personally clean your clock.
  • Then, when they meet a skilled person who is really trying to clean their clock, they may be disappointed in what they can actually pull out of their training.
  • Speaking of Thanksgiving, some fool in a car almost cleaned my clock on my way in to work this morning!
Defeat or surpass someone decisively: racing in this yacht he cleaned the clocks of the Regatta fleet
More example sentences
  • He cleaned his clock in the French debate.
  • As he became a dot on the horizon I reassured myself if I were his age, with his bike, with his quads, his parents and his Spandex I'd clean his clock.
  • Sure we have taken some casualties, but the people we are fighting are criminals, terrorists, and punks and we are cleaning their clock.

clean house

North American
Do housework: they cleaned house, washed clothes, and cared for the children
More example sentences
  • Yard work, cleaning house and washing cars are good exercise.
  • Well, as nature cleans house, as it washes/blows away ‘excess’, or shakes at its core, or erupts the underground gases and lava, mankind must pick up the pieces and move on!
  • A man will do almost anything not to cook, wash dishes, or clean house.
Eliminate corruption or inefficiency: the president acted quickly to clean house when the allegations were made
More example sentences
  • He was determined to become the real head of the Intelligence Community and to clean house at CIA by eliminating deadwood and cutting costs.
  • Dozens of advisors to the late leader have been fired in a shakeup to clean house of corrupt administrators.
  • Unless he cleans house, his will be the Edsel presidency.

clean one's plate

Eat up all the food put on one’s plate.
More example sentences
  • I leave a lot on the plate because I need not clean my plate.
  • I pack half the food away right then so that I can clean my plate without stuffing myself-and I have a meal for the next day.
  • I took a tentative bite and then cleaned my plate.

a clean sheet (or slate)

An absence of existing restraints or commitments: no government starts with a clean sheet
More example sentences
  • Another clean sheet and maybe the odds will start tumbling.
  • So we're starting here with a completely clean slate.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the captain of the Tampa has a completely clean slate.
(keep a clean sheet) (In a football match) prevent the opposing side from scoring: Scotland kept a clean sheet against the Welsh
More example sentences
  • Hounslow were boosted by the return of Alistair Slay and James Kingston and kept their first clean sheet of the season.
  • Of the game itself, the manager was delighted with another clean sheet.
  • It was also the first home clean sheet since Barnsley on October 2.

clean up one's act

informal Begin to behave in a better way, especially by giving up alcohol, drugs, or illegal activities: he planned to clean up his act, but in a last celebration bought some coke and heroin
More example sentences
  • Now is the time to sift through those cluttered cupboards and clean up your act.
  • Now comes the time to get real and clean up my act.

come clean

informal Be completely honest; keep nothing hidden: the Chancellor must come clean about his plans for increasing taxation
More example sentences
  • If the department wants transformation targets met, then they must be honest and come clean about this.
  • The question is, will it be done responsibly, by coming clean about the hidden liabilities now and taking the necessary, if painful, steps to deal with them?
  • They have no interest, my friends, in coming clean and being honest with the American people.

have clean hands

Be uninvolved and blameless with regard to an immoral act: no one involved in the conflict has clean hands
More example sentences
  • We are the only party that can come along and say we have clean hands.
  • But there are questions about the loyalty and integrity of this intelligence service that, after all, does not have clean hands.
  • Perhaps she had forgotten that if you are going to preach, it is as well to have clean hands.

keep one's hands clean

Not involve oneself in an immoral act: Franco kept his own hands clean by using others to impose his will
More example sentences
  • When the chips were down the game's governing body refused to get involved and preferred to keep their hands clean.
  • The philosophy seemed to be that you don't catch grubs by keeping your hands clean.
  • You can keep your hands clean, or you can keep many more people alive.

keep one's nose clean

see nose.

make a clean breast of it

Confess fully one’s mistakes or wrongdoings.
More example sentences
  • Why don't they make a clean breast of it and say, ‘Look, ladies and gentlemen, we're really not dealing in news.’
  • I reckon you need to wipe the slate, mate, make a clean breast of it, so to speak.
  • If he has had an extramarital affair, he ought to make a clean breast of it.

make a clean job of something

informal Do something thoroughly.
More example sentences
  • However, the witches were not particularly preoccupied with making a clean job of things.
  • If you don't know how to make a clean job of it ask a more experienced climber to help you.
  • If you don't facilitate for fence construction during the wall install all bets are off on making a clean job of it after the fact!

make a clean sweep

  • 1Remove all unwanted people or things ready to start afresh: in 1917 many Soviet communists wanted to make a clean sweep of the discredited old order
    More example sentences
    • I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it.
    • For a man with a broom wanting to make a clean sweep of city hall, one couldn't ask for a better place to start.
    • Back in the heady dotcom days, it seemed as though online polling was poised to make a clean sweep of market research - revolutionizing the way companies conducted quantitative and qualitative research.
  • 2Win all of a group of similar or related sporting competitions, events, or matches: Annadale are almost certain of making a clean sweep of the male athletics competitions
    More example sentences
    • Zambia squash aces dominated the recently-ended East Africa squash safari circuit, by making a clean sweep of all three titles on the Kenya tour.
    • It was Cooke's first appearance at the Sportcity venue since making a clean sweep of the national youth titles over seven years ago.
    • Thus he made a clean sweep of all the events he participated in.

Phrasal verbs

clean someone out

informal Use up or take all someone’s money: they were cleaned out by the Englishman at the baccarat table
More example sentences
  • Spend the same amount of time and money at the slots or the tables, and you could be cleaned out.
  • I think they were cleaned out of balls, gloves and any little trinket that the kids could prise out of them.
  • It wasn't your fault that your wife left, cleaning you out.
bankrupt, ruin, make insolvent, make penniless, wipe out, impoverish, reduce to penury/destitution, bring to ruin, bring someone to their knees, break, cripple
rare pauperize, beggar

clean something out

Thoroughly clean the inside of something: my mom says I have to go and clean out the hamster 's cage
More example sentences
  • Still, the last wren around here nested in the dryer vent, which was a mess to clean out.
  • I can do projects around the house, like try to refinish my front door, or clean out my gutters.
  • Moving house is often the time for a garage sale, a clean out.

clean up

Make a substantial gain or profit: Francis put three quid on a horse, figuring it was about time he cleaned up
More example sentences
  • Disinfectant companies have been cleaning up since the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
  • He travels the circuit, pretending to be an ordinary joe, and then cleans up on bets and prizes because he has a great rock-and-roll voice.
  • A competent Democrat could clean up with a message to restore government for the people rather than for special interests.
Win all the prizes available in a sporting competition: the Germans cleaned up at Wimbledon
More example sentences
  • City Arms added to their division one championship win by cleaning up all the competition trophies on offer.
  • In addition to their 3rd place trophies, this team cleaned up on the technical prizes winning three Near Pins and a Long Drive.
  • He cleaned up in the rifle competition by winning five of the six rifle matches in the champion shot competition.

clean something up

Restore order or morality to: the police chief was given the job of cleaning up a notorious district
More example sentences
  • The owner of garages plagued by arson attacks and used as a drinking den has been ordered to clean them up or pull them down.
  • By 1913 the tango had become a worldwide phenomenon, but had undergone further adaptation in order to clean it up.
  • But by the 1990s, its image had been cleaned up as the Victorian buildings were restored and the old warehouse of the Merchant City transformed.



More example sentences
  • Thankfully everything is cleanable and fixable.
  • The wall must be furnished with easily cleanable tile in order to meet government health and safety standards.
  • For example, milking parlor design doesn't have to be certified as cleanable.


More example sentences
  • If it wasn't for us and our pesky obsession with getting places on time, sitting on cleanish seats with access to working toilets, the transport system would run perfectly well.
  • It was pretty funny to see these folk arrive in what is basically a really messy shell, and watch their reactions to having to find a cleanish place to sleep.
  • Note that when anyone else takes out the bar steward's car, it comes back dry, cleanish and not at all broken.


Pronunciation: /ˈkliːnnɪs/
More example sentences
  • It will once again be promoted as a town of natural beauty, cleanness, and calmness.
  • The impulse to cleanness, freshness, frankness, simplicity, precision, informs both the inward- and the outward-directed music of this time.
  • In this massive text dealing with cases of cleanness and purity in food and in domestic relationships, the two key sections deal with religious festivals and detailed procedures of Temple practices.


Old English clǣne, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German klein 'small'.

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Word of the day skosh
Pronunciation: skōSH
a small amount; a little