\ ˈklēn \

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



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


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 off clean 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 out they 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



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.

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Other words from clean


cleanness \ˈklēn-nəs \ noun


cleanability \ˌklē-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
cleanable \ˈklē-nə-bəl \ adjective

Examples of clean in a Sentence


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.


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.


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The China Clean Energy Fund, which Apple said it and its partners will fund over four years, will invest in and develop-clean energy projects totaling more than 1 gigawatt of renewable energy in the country. Tripp Mickle, WSJ, "Apple Sets $300 Million Clean Energy Fund for China Amid Trade Tensions," 12 July 2018 As of press time, Cyrus' Twitter and Facebook are also wiped clean although her tweets are still up for people to read. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "Miley Cyrus' Instagram Page Has Been Wiped Clean," 13 July 2018 The air was clean and the temperature brisk, with frequent intervals of cloudy, cool, windy and rainy weather interspersed with glorious bursts of sunshine. Doug Hansen,, "Hiking Spain's wild coast," 12 July 2018 Her house is cream-colored and clean and is filled with her elegant finds. Liz Arnold, Longreads, "Making Peace with the Site of a Suicide," 11 July 2018 Six years later, one of the world’s best artist-adventurers comes clean about the panic attacks, PTSD, and alcohol abuse that nearly killed him. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Moments That Changed Us," 11 July 2018 By this time, residue from the exhaust plume dried to the lens but thankfully wiped clean with some lens fluid. Michael Stillwell, Popular Mechanics, "How To Photograph a Rocket Launch," 6 July 2018 The beaches are downright gorgeous, and cleaner and more surfable than most back home. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Sydney: The Black Book," 5 July 2018 Each piece of pita should be soaked completely in olive oil and the bowl should be wiped clean. Sarah Fritsche,, "Recipe: Tawla’s Fattoush," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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 Finch, who is remarkably clean-cut for an unwashed anarcho-punk, represents freedom, sexuality and a comfortable racial identity. Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, "Review: Deirdre O’Connell Loses Her Grip on Reality in ‘Terminus’," 20 Feb. 2018 Derrick Cardosi, 25, was clean-cut and wearing a white dress shirt and slacks when he was led into Newton County Superior Judge Daniel J. Molter's courtroom Monday by his attorney, Harry Falk. Carrie Napoleon, Post-Tribune, "Jury selection begins in Sumava Resorts stabbing deaths trial," 29 Jan. 2018 An unknown person attempted to open the floor clean-out drain in the men's bathroom at Oct. 6 at 11:41 a.m. from Elm Grove Village Park, 13600 Juneau Blvd. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brookfield-Elm Grove Police Report: Woman refuses to leave drive-thru due to lack of napkin," 12 Oct. 2017 The build-up has been light on trash talk, with Parker living up to his image of being clean-cut and courteous. USA TODAY, "Heavyweight champ Parker hits the road to boost profile," 21 Sep. 2017 Suave, clean-cut, and well-spoken, Macron the candidate seemed like the product of a centrist basement lab. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Emmanuel Macron Is No Model For Democrats," 25 Aug. 2017 Nowadays, his hair is short, his face clean shaven. Howard Fendrich,, "14 Years After First Wimbledon Win, Federer Eyes Eighth Vs. Cilic," 15 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

She's been at the facility since 2009, when Murphy's program placed her there, enabling her to eventually land a full-time job as part of the cleaning staff. Robert Mccabe, The Christian Science Monitor, "AARP helps seniors find steady jobs," 9 July 2018 Usually, soldiers must carry more than 200 rounds of ammo, medical kits, MRE rations, a weapon cleaning kit and a map, to name a few items. Andrew Keiper, Fox News, "Why US forces carry the American flag," 4 July 2018 Chris Davis shared insights into ways the homeless population could be addressed and fire danger could be reduced by cleaning brush and debris from the creek and replacing it with a non-motorized trail. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Greenway trail would improve public safety, officials agree," 2 July 2018 The Air Force resumed training flights in March with a more frequent maintenance and cleaning schedule. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "Commander halted Randolph training flights over pilots’ concerns," 28 June 2018 Asgar and his wife had entered into a contract for a house in the area, and had scheduled a final walk-through of the property with the two sellers, Asgar's wife's parents, two realtors, movers and a cleaning person. Eli Rosenberg,, "He threatened a Muslim family that planned to move to his neighborhood. Now, he'll go to prison.," 13 June 2018 Police seized multiple items from his apartment including: a Remington rifle with a magazine, cartridges for different calibers of guns, two rifle scopes and gun cleaning equipment. CBS News, "Waffle House shooting suspect's former boss asked feds to help him," 25 Apr. 2018 And think of how many potentially toxic things are hanging out in your cabinets right at child-level, like cleaning supplies, medications, and beauty products. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 His father ran a leather tanning business, and McGregor said a young Dr. Smith spent a lot of time cleaning tanks, which fueled an early interest in chemistry and in building bombs, leading at one point to a visit from the FBI. Dennis Overbye,, "Bradford Smith, 86, dies; showed postcards from outer space," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Grunwald, a good-looking teen with a clean-cut reputation and military family, was bludgeoned with a pistol at a camping trailer behind the Almandinger house in Palmer. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Murder trial for first teen charged in Grunwald slaying begins in Palmer," 15 May 2018 Then, on rival New York Yankees, won the 2009 World Series with a clean-cut look. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "'Dancing With the Stars': Everything you need to know about May's quick all-athlete season," 27 Apr. 2018 What a difference a deep clean can do for the exterior of our homes. Melissa Rolland,, "Projects That Don't Break The Bank," 19 June 2018 Murtagh projected that a full clean of the Salesforce Tower — which hasn’t yet been done — will cost tens of thousands of dollars. San Francisco Chronicle, "Tech firms love glass skyscrapers. Window washers are cleaning up," 18 June 2018 His appeal for a government clean of scandal, coupled with a promise to hold new elections soon, brought him just enough votes in parliament to end Rajoy's 6 1/2 years in charge. Joseph Wilson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Spain's new leader Pedro Sanchez promises an end to corruption," 1 June 2018 His appeal for a government clean of scandal, coupled with a promise to hold new elections soon, brought him just enough votes in parliament to end Rajoy’s 6 1/2 years in charge. Washington Post, "Spain finds its comeback kid in new leader Pedro Sanchez," 1 June 2018 The manager said a professional cleaner has already fixed those areas and a deep clean of the dining room should happen soon. Ben Brasch, ajc, "Chinese eatery in Cobb fails health check for greasy, dirty kitchen," 26 Apr. 2018 If one of you prefers to do laundry while the other would rather do a deep clean of the kitchen on weekends, have at it. Ian Kerner, CNN, "'Chore-play'? When couples share the dishes, they're happier," 19 Apr. 2018

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.

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History and Etymology for clean


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.


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


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


noun derivative of clean entry 3

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Statistics for clean

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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More Definitions for clean



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



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

: all the way : completely or entirely



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



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

: an act of removing dirt from something


\ ˈklēn \
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



Kids Definition of clean (Entry 2 of 3)

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


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


\ ˈklēn \

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)

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Legal Definition of clean 

: free of amendments or annotations

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More from Merriam-Webster on clean

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clean

Spanish Central: Translation of clean

Nglish: Translation of clean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clean for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about clean

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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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