\ 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



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.

Other Words from clean


cleanability \ ˌklē-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce clean (audio) \ noun
cleanable \ ˈklē-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce clean (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 This included the sofas, with their classic legs and modest arms, and striped upholstered chairs with clean-line frames. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 11 May 2022 Healy also recommends tweezing only when skin is completely clean, bare, and free of any skin care or makeup so that the eyebrow hairs are not slippery. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 11 May 2022 Since 2020, the ACGME has required residency programs to provide lactation spaces that are clean, private, and near patient care areas. Miriam Shuchman, STAT, 9 May 2022 But Massachusetts happens to be relatively close to one of the largest sources of clean, consistent energy in the world: Canadian hydropower. New York Times, 6 May 2022 The seashore is clean, quiet and offers visitors plenty of room to spread out. Gabi De La Rosa, Chron, 6 May 2022 The commitment to a net-zero future means that today’s entrepreneurs must learn to build and scale ideas with CLIC values - clean, lean, inclusive, and circular. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 5 May 2022 Keep your family safe, and your record clean, by using Apple’s Car Play or Android’s Auto systems to make your vehicle’s entertainment center voice activated. Hunter Boyce, ajc, 5 May 2022 Many hotels, after suspending housekeeping at the start of the pandemic, now clean only when guests request it. Will Feuer, WSJ, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And while enthusiasm marked the conversation on clean-burning hydrogen, some sounded caution about how the technology is scaled up. Denise Chow, NBC News, 12 May 2022 At the same time, the gas company notes that hydrogen could dramatically reduce hazardous air pollution from heavy-duty trucks, estimating that Angeles Link could deliver enough clean-burning fuel to displace 3 million gallons of diesel each day. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2022 New research and a slew of industry announcements promise clean-burning hydrogen at $1 per kilogram will displace fossil fuels used in industries from steel to shipping. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, 29 Dec. 2021 Without the mess of ash and soot, these clean-burning units require much less upkeep than traditional wood-burning fireplaces, but a bit of gas fireplace maintenance is essential to keep yours in top shape. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Oct. 2021 The steel was produced using HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology), which uses electricity from renewable sources to create the clean-burning gas. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Sep. 2021 The clean-living trend has gained steam in recent years, particularly among celebrities and their followings. Corrie Driebusch, WSJ, 14 July 2021 This clean-burning fuel significantly reduces emissions over more traditional marine bunker oil, thereby lessening the ship's environmental footprint. Tim Walters, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 2021 There are times of year when turbines on the Columbia River produce more electricity than needed, and a public utility wants to use that excess power to create a clean-burning fuel for factories, trucks or power plants. Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker features nonstick plates and offers a large drip area that’s easy to clean. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, 13 May 2022 Busy dads and partners may not be able to find the time to thoroughly clean their home or work space on a regular basis. Kylee Mcguigan, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 The ultra-durable skillet comes with a red silicone handle holder for stress-free carrying (no worries about the handle being too hot ever again) and is easy to clean, requiring only a hand wash and cooking oil rub. Rachel Simon,, 9 May 2022 The closure gave custodians time to thoroughly clean the buildings before schools reopened the next week. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 25 Mar. 2022 Britain also signaled the measures against the Duma members last month, effectively giving them time to clean out their British bank accounts, though analysts said some were likely to have stranded real estate in London. New York Times, 13 Mar. 2022 Secondly, not all raw meat may be as easy to clean as raw fish. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 13 Mar. 2022 The pottery was brightly colored and easy to clean, Briggs said. Mary Carole Mccauley,, 13 Mar. 2022 Each bag is quick-drying, easy to clean, and resistant to tears and water. Carly Kulzer, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pretty packaging aside, the Finishing Touch hair removal device works great as a quick clean-up around your face. ELLE, 26 Apr. 2022 Alabama regulators approved a 3% rate increase in 2019 to address the costs of coal ash clean-up. Dennis Pillion |, al, 21 Apr. 2022 Join Pleasant Ridge Community Council for a litter clean-up. Give Back for Earth Day, 1-2:30 p.m., Harbin Park, 1300 Hunter Road, Fairfield. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 20 Apr. 2022 At the last clean-up event sponsored by the club in 2019, there were over 400 volunteers who helped remove trash from in and around the Fox River north and south of downtown Aurora, and also in areas along Indian Creek. Beacon-news Staff,, 18 Mar. 2022 This simple but important preparations makes for easy, no-fuss clean-up, which is especially helpful after a long day of work. Navpreet Dhillon, Sunset Magazine, 17 Mar. 2022 An environmental clean-up would prepare the property for future development. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, 13 Mar. 2022 These inexpensive ingredients come together for a powerful clean that won't compromise the hardware or cooking surface of your kitchen appliance. Samantha Hunter, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 Feb. 2022 What serves to royally impress are the sharp ways Jacobson and screenwriter Holly Hester craft clean-lined and cohesive character dilemmas. Courtney Howard, Variety, 20 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of clean


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


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


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


circa 1889, in the meaning defined above

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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Time Traveler for clean

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near clean



clean and jerk

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Clean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for clean


\ 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



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 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


transitive verb

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)



Legal Definition of clean

: free of amendments or annotations

More from Merriam-Webster on clean

Nglish: Translation of clean for Spanish Speakers

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


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