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.

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective On May 6, a judge ruled that Cavasos, who has pleaded not guilty, should be released to a clean-and-sober living facility under GPS monitoring and a curfew pending trial, according to the Portland Oregonian. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Wash. Man Allegedly Hid Under Bed of Girl, 12, for a Month in Order to Sexually Assault Her," 14 May 2020 Fertitta said the company is following CDC, state and regulatory guidelines and taking measures to maintain a safe and clean environment for its guests and employees. Nancy Sarnoff, Houston Chronicle, "Tilman Fertitta's Golden Nugget casino in Lake Charles to reopen," 13 May 2020 Michael Guynn, a social worker in Los Angeles, would show up at a foster family's home unannounced to make sure that the house was clean and livable and that a child was being fed and going to school. Patrice Gaines, NBC News, "Black social workers face stress, racial inequities during COVID-19 pandemic," 11 May 2020 Washing with water and mild detergent and then drying on a high setting will get your mask clean and ready to reuse, according to a face mask info sheet on the CDC website. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "How to Clean Face Masks Safely," 7 May 2020 Do a pre-opening deep clean and disinfecting, including making sure hospital grade disinfectants are used. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "CBON Group Offers Best Practices For Salons Reopening During The Pandemic," 4 May 2020 Once hot, clean and oil grill grates with canola oil. Erika Dungan And Kate Merker, Country Living, "Charred Baby Peppers with Lime and Cashew Vinaigrette," 3 May 2020 Still, the city continued to resist a call for addressing the overall sewer overflow problem until a complaint was filed, said Kevin Hardie, director of Friends of the White River, a nonprofit that advocates for a clean and healthy river. Sarah Bowman, IndyStar, "The White River: Cleanup follows decades of civil rights abuses. Now who will benefit?," 2 May 2020 Be sure your hair is clean and free of hair spray or gel. USA Today, "Steps to cutting your own hair during the coronavirus shutdown," 23 Apr. 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 Workers will also have their temperatures taken, and will frequently clean and disinfect chairs, tables, and other high-touch areas. TheWeek, "Universal Orlando aims to reopen on June 5," 22 May 2020 Australia is so serious about hygiene that the government is providing an additional 10 million Australian dollars ($6.56 million) to help schools cover the cost of soap, hand sanitizer and classroom cleaning products. Julia Hollingsworth And Jake Kwon, CNN, "In Asia, children are going back to school. But education in the time of coronavirus is not without difficulties," 21 May 2020 McDonald's is requiring franchisees to clean bathrooms every 30 minutes. Marc Fisher, Anchorage Daily News, "The need to go is a big barrier to going out. Why public bathrooms are a stumbling block for reopening.," 19 May 2020 There may be temperature checks at some casinos and there will likely be additional cleaning staff to disinfect slots machines and furniture. Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "When Wisconsin tribal casinos reopen, it's likely the slot machines will be the only gambling -- no craps or bingo," 15 May 2020 Ventura says that if several employees fall ill, managers may want to thoroughly clean the facility and then use the tests to prove there is no detectable viral RNA. Lina Zeldovich/undark, Popular Science, "COVID-19 surface tests can’t make public spaces safe just yet," 15 May 2020 Dressed in green and armed with disinfectants, this team is trained to clean and are constantly sanitizing the tables and slot machines when a person leaves, according to Lewis. Tina Giuliano, azcentral, "Free masks, 50% capacity: Gila River governor assures casinos are safe to reopen Friday," 14 May 2020 China is likely to be an especially important source of technological progress in the crucial pivot to clean energy. Dean Baker, The New Republic, "Building an Economy That Works Again," 14 May 2020 Businesses must prevent the use of all water fountains and are required to clean bathrooms and elevators every two to three hours, the Herald reported. Fox News, "Florida's DeSantis lifts coronavirus lockdown for remaining Miami-Dade, Broward counties," 14 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not just a maintenance clean, but spring cleaning magnified. Heather Cherry, SELF, "Coronavirus Is Seriously Triggering My OCD," 10 Apr. 2020 Though a clean shave leaves less room for error, there's still some prep work that goes into a thorough job. Aimee Simeon, refinery29.com, "The Pro Guide To Turn Your Bathroom Into A Barbershop," 8 Apr. 2020 Kroger and other stores have reduced hours to allow for more time to restock and cleans stores. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "What grocery stores are doing to keep you safe, stocked up during COVID-19 pandemic," 3 Apr. 2020 Regular soap and water cleans germs away, but sanitizing and disinfecting products are required to kill germs. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Are Natural Disinfectants Effective? How to Find the Best Cleaner to Kill Germs," 2 Apr. 2020 Place both slices, buttered side down, on a clean cutting board. Journal Sentinel Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Comfort foods for an uncomfortable time: the era of coronavirus," 24 Mar. 2020 Previously, deep cleans were done on a never basis. Laura Lane, The New Yorker, "Your Yoga Studio’s Updated Practices in Response to COVID-19," 14 Mar. 2020 As the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Oregon, Nike and Columbia conducted deep cleans of their facilities. Anne Sraders, Fortune, "Here are some of the most extreme ways companies are combatting coronavirus," 9 Mar. 2020 Frequent hand-washing goes a long way, but most people go through the motions without getting a thorough clean. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "With These 11 Luxurious Soaps, Fighting the Flu Has Never Been Easier (or Chicer!)," 18 Oct. 2019

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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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

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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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Statistics for clean

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clean. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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)

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clean

adjective

Legal Definition of clean

: free of amendments or annotations

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Comments on clean

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