clean

adjective
\ ˈklēn How to pronounce clean (audio) \

Definition of clean

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : free from dirt or pollution changed to clean clothes clean solar energy
b : free from contamination or disease a clean wound
c : free or relatively free from radioactivity a clean atomic explosion
2a : unadulterated, pure the clean thrill of one's first flight
b of a precious stone : having no interior flaws visible
c : free from growth that hinders tillage clean farmland
3a : free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind a candidate with a clean record also : free from violations a clean driving record
b : free from offensive treatment of sexual subjects and from the use of obscenity a clean joke
c : observing the rules : fair a clean fight
4 : ceremonially or spiritually pure and all who are clean may eat flesh — Leviticus 7:19 (Revised Standard Version)
5a : thorough, complete a clean break with the past
b : deftly executed : skillful clean ballet technique The gymnast made a clean landing.
c : hit beyond the reach of an opponent a clean single to center
6a : relatively free from error or blemish : clear specifically : legible clean copy
b : unencumbered clean bill of sale
7a : characterized by clarity and precision : trim a clean prose style architecture with clean almost austere lines
b : even, smooth a clean edge a sharp blow causing a clean break
c : free from external hindrances to smooth flow (as of water or air) a clean airplane a ship with a clean bottom
8a : empty the ship returned with a clean hold
b : free from drug addiction has been clean for six months
c slang : having no contraband (such as weapons or drugs) in one's possession All visitors to the prison are searched to make sure they're clean.
d of a computer : not having anything added by a user installed the software on a clean computer
9 : habitually neat

clean

adverb

Definition of clean (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : so as to clean a new broom sweeps clean
b : in a clean manner play the game clean
2 : all the way : completely the bullet went clean through his arm

clean

verb
cleaned; cleaning; cleans

Definition of clean (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to make clean: such as
(1) : to rid of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter clean a wound
(2) : to rid of corruption vowing to clean up city hall
b : remove, eradicate usually used with up or offclean up that mess
2a : strip, empty a tree cleaned of fruit
b : to remove the entrails from clean fish
c : to deprive of money or possessions often used with outthey cleaned him out completely

intransitive verb

: to undergo or perform a process of cleaning clean up before dinner
clean house
1 : to clean a house and its furniture
2 : to make sweeping reforms or changes (as of personnel)
clean one's clock
: to beat one badly in a fight or competition
clean up one's act
: to behave in a more acceptable manner

clean

noun

Definition of clean (Entry 4 of 4)

: an act of cleaning dirt especially from the surface of something She gave the tub a good clean.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from clean

Verb

cleanability \ ˌklē-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce cleanability (audio) \ noun
cleanable \ ˈklē-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce cleanable (audio) \ adjective

Examples of clean in a Sentence

Adjective This table isn't clean. There's a sticky spot where something spilled. He keeps a very clean house. The janitor does a good job of keeping the office clean. I wiped the baby's face clean. He's a clean young man. Cats are very clean animals. Solar power provides clean energy. Adverb Somehow, the top of the machine came clean off. The nail went clean through the wall. The fish were jumping clean out of the water. Verb The carpet needs to be cleaned. They divide household duties so that she cleans and her husband cooks. They cleaned the fish and cooked them on the campfire. skin and clean a rabbit
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Navajo Nation's per-capita coronavirus rate has been the worst in the country for much of the pandemic, and one cause that keeps popping up is a lack of access to clean water. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Big oil is headed back to court while Congress considers paying for its cleanup," 26 June 2020 Each mask comes with a BPA silicone straw and the company donates a portion of its sales to The Charity Water Foundation, which helps provide clean water to vulnerable communities. Brenda Cain, cleveland, "Wondering how to eat, drink while staying protected from coronavirus? Check out these masks," 25 June 2020 People generally see the enormous job potential of a hundred-per-cent clean-energy transition. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "What Stands in the Way of Making the Climate a Priority," 24 June 2020 Benton said a lot of people are fairly discouraged with the current state of the world, but giving a small community better health and lives through clean water creates meaningful change in its people’s lives. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Katy resident’s walk raises funds for clean water in East Asian community," 22 June 2020 The Trump administration’s replacement of Obama-era clean water requirements takes effect in every state today except for Colorado. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy, presented by API: Inside the new US policy on financing nuclear abroad," 22 June 2020 There are many organizations who are on the front lines supporting refugees by providing clean water, food, health care and safe places. Bethany Hines, CNN, "June 20 is World Refugee Day. Here are ways you can show support," 20 June 2020 The General Services Administration—which handles government procurement—can decide whether the United States’ massive federal vehicle fleets and buildings run on clean energy. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Inside the Fight to Shape Biden’s Climate Policy," 17 June 2020 But there’s a daunting obstacle to realizing that hopeful vision: In places like India, there’s just not enough clean water. Nilanjana Bhowmick, National Geographic, "Will COVID-19 inspire the world to provide poor people with clean water?," 16 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Juana’s parents didn’t grumble about the work at the factory, where hundreds of workers lined up in rows to perform a task — stun, slaughter, pluck feathers, clean, cut or debone. Los Angeles Times, "Mississippi raids split families and leave children adrift: ‘I just want my mom and dad’," 10 Aug. 2019 Canned pumpkin means that there’s no need to open, clean, cut, and puree a pumpkin, leaving you more time to concentrate on the other meal courses. The Editors, Field & Stream, "3 Reasons Pumpkin Pie is the Best Dessert," 3 Apr. 2020 Another example of keeping schools clean comes from the Hamilton School District in Sussex. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's how Milwaukee-area school districts are preparing for a possible coronavirus outbreak," 6 Mar. 2020 His grades were good, but there are no stories of virtuosity, just a heavy-drinking, clean-cut young man who seemed to be the median kind of person at an elite university like Yale in the 1980s. Jill Filipovic, Washington Post, "In this account of the Kavanaugh hearings, no heroes or villains — just humans," 14 Sep. 2019 Juana 's parents didn 't grumble about the work at the factory, where hundreds of workers lined up in rows to perform a task -- stun, slaughter, pluck feathers, clean, cut or debone. Author: Jenny Jarvie, Anchorage Daily News, "Mississippi raids split families and leave children adrift: ‘I just want my mom and dad’," 11 Aug. 2019 Charlottesville has long outgrown its patrician Jeffersonian roots to become a mecca for artists and musicians, youthful retirees, and clean-cut techies. James Loeffler, WSJ, "The Struggle for Charlottesville," 10 Aug. 2018 In 2017, BART’s overtime spending systemwide rose by $2.2 million — but the department charged with keeping stations clean managed to cut its overtime by nearly $1 million, records show. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, "BART reining in janitor overtime after public fallout," 30 Apr. 2018 And that required relying on an image of the Kennedys as upstanding, clean-cut, even glamorous public servants. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Kennedy family built up a public mythology. TV and movies are taking it apart.," 9 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Companies should frequently clean and disinfect office spaces, especially high touch surfaces like doorknobs or elevator buttons. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland, "How offices are returning to work safely during coronavirus: Top Workplaces 2020," 28 June 2020 While teams will be responsible for their own laundry, Disney employees will clean the hotel linens. Mark Medina, USA TODAY, "How Disney employees will work inside the NBA's campus bubble site," 28 June 2020 Patric Richardson, a laundry expert who runs the website The Laundry Evangelist, explains that steam works to disinfect and clean in two ways. Jolie Kerr, CNN Underscored, "Does steaming your clothes really sanitize them? We find out," 25 June 2020 The virus is also pushing the desire for easy-to-clean polished concrete, tile or antimicrobial materials. oregonlive, "Portland’s pandemic-era apartment buildings: Tenants win with rent incentives, but gyms may go away," 25 June 2020 In the Market + Bimbo Bakeries USA Bistro, the staff will deep clean the props representing produce, meat, dairy, bread and pastries. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Cultural institutions reopen with a more hands-off approach," 25 June 2020 Insecticidal soaps and Neem oil will clean things up. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Freaking out over aphids? Here’s what you should absolutely not do.," 25 June 2020 Does your teenager know how to clean a toilet, change a flat tire or create a household budget? Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "How do credit cards work? How do I change a tire? Learn this and more in 'Adulting 101'," 23 June 2020 Onboard every Emirates flight longer than 1.5 hours, there is a cabin crew member whose sole job is to clean and disinfect the bathrooms every 45 minutes. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Dubai Will Reopen to International Travelers on July 7 — What to Know," 23 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The institution estimates that the keeping the building clean takes up 132 people hours each day and 20 to 25 more team members. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, "Here's when The Children's Museum will reopen to the public and what to know before you go," 30 June 2020 Pockets of infections have been tied to a bar in Ingham County; to out-of-state contractors in Bay County who came to help with clean-up after the flood in Midland, and to farmworkers in Barry, Lapeer and Oceana counties, Sutfin said. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan health officials urge caution as state opens and coronavirus cases rise," 28 June 2020 This little tool sands quickly and sucks debris into a cotton dust bag so there’s minimal clean-up. Popular Science, "Essential power tools every DIYer should own," 19 June 2020 Fields’ neighborhood council has organized a South Los Angeles-specific Black History Month celebration, a park clean-up, a City Council candidate forum and a fire safety day, among other events. Los Angeles Times, "How to be civically or politically active during a pandemic," 5 June 2020 There's more concern about how professional a clean is today more than ever and making sure it's well documented. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "Why Travelers Are Turning to Vacation Home Rentals for a Safe Getaway This Summer," 5 June 2020 Schools across the nation are planning deep cleans as students stagger schedules to return to instruction. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Many businesses promise to 'deep clean' offices before reopening. But what does that mean?," 3 June 2020 And almost as old as the pants themselves are conflicting theories about how to keep the hardworking denim clean without fading it or wearing it out prematurely. Nicole Clausing, Sunset Magazine, "The 411 on Your 501s—How to Keep Your Jeans Clean," 23 Mar. 2020 Hyper-sensitive spring bobbers fashioned from a thin titanium wire are perfectly balanced for use with small bluegill jigs, and can be sensitive enough to reveal if bluegills have successfully picked the jig clean of waxies or spikes. Outdoor Life, "5 Bluegill Facts That Will Help You Catch More Fish," 27 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clean.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of clean

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

circa 1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for clean

Adjective

Middle English clene, going back to Old English clǣne "free from impurities or dirt, unblemished," going back to West Germanic *klainja- (whence also Old Saxon klēni "slender, perceptive," Middle Dutch cleine, clēne "of superior quality, elegant, slender, small," Old High German kleini, chleine "fine, delicate, clever"), of uncertain origin

Note: On the grounds that Low German klīn and Swiss German khlii, with an ablaut grade *klīn-, require a verbal origin, a base *klein-/*klain-/klin- has been suggested, whence Old Norse klína "to smear, butter (bread)," Old High German giklenan "to stroke, smear," from Indo-European *glei̯H- "smear, make stick" (whence, also with a nasal present formation, Old Irish glenaid "(it) adheres, cleaves," Welsh glynu "to stick, adhere"; cf. clay). This derivation would imply for the Germanic adjective an original meaning "smeared on well, carefully applied," hence "well crafted, of superior quality" > "free of impurities, fine, delicate" > "small" (see F. Heidermanns, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der germanischen Primäradjektiven, Berlin, 1993). The earlier proposal of a connection with Indo-European *gel- "bright, shining," is improbable, as none of the descendants of Germanic *klainja- have this meaning.

Adverb

Middle English clene, going back to Old English clǣne, derivative of clǣne clean entry 1

Verb

Middle English clenen "to clear of weeds," derivative of clene clean entry 1

Noun

noun derivative of clean entry 3

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clean

Time Traveler for clean

Time Traveler

The first known use of clean was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for clean

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clean. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clean

clean

adjective
How to pronounce clean (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clean

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: free from dirt, marks, etc. : not dirty
: tending to keep clean
: free from pollution or other dangerous substances

clean

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of clean (Entry 2 of 4)

informal : all the way : completely or entirely

clean

verb

English Language Learners Definition of clean (Entry 3 of 4)

: to make (something) clean : to remove dirt, marks, etc., from (something)
: to become clean
: to make (something, such as a room) neat and orderly

clean

noun

English Language Learners Definition of clean (Entry 4 of 4)

informal : an act of removing dirt from something

clean

adjective
\ ˈklēn How to pronounce clean (audio) \
cleaner; cleanest

Kids Definition of clean

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : free of dirt or pollution clean air Put on a clean shirt.
2 : not yet used Use a clean sheet of paper.
3 : not involving or showing involvement with anything wrong or illegal good, clean fun I've got a clean record.
4 : not offensive a clean joke
5 : thorough sense 1 She made a clean break with the past.
6 : having a simple graceful form : trim The ship has clean lines.
7 : smooth entry 1 sense 1 The knife made a clean cut.

Other Words from clean

cleanly \ ˈklēn-​lē \ adverb

clean

adverb

Kids Definition of clean (Entry 2 of 3)

: all the way : completely The nail went clean through. Birds picked the bones clean.

clean

verb
cleaned; cleaning

Kids Definition of clean (Entry 3 of 3)

: to make or become free of dirt or disorder I cleaned my room. Please clean up for supper.

Other Words from clean

cleaner noun

clean

adjective
\ ˈklēn How to pronounce clean (audio) \

Medical Definition of clean

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : free from dirt or pollution
b : free from disease or infectious agents a pullorum-clean flock keep installations clean of TB infection
2 : free from smudges or anything that tends to obscure a clean set of fingerprints
3 of a horse's leg : free from curbs or bunches below the hock
4 : free from drug addiction

Medical Definition of clean (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to brush (the teeth) with a cleanser (as a dentifrice)
2 : to perform dental prophylaxis on (the teeth)

Keep scrolling for more

clean

adjective

Legal Definition of clean

: free of amendments or annotations

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on clean

What made you want to look up clean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!