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

Adjective

cleanness \ ˈklēn-​nəs How to pronounce cleanness (audio) \ noun

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 If Obama is for clean water, Trump and his EPA are against it. J.d. Crowe | Jdcrowe@al.com, al, "Trump EPA’s Dirty Water Act," 17 Sep. 2019 Mr Karoui made popular promises to invest in education, clean water and other basic services for the poor. The Economist, "Tunisia’s presidential race becomes a contest of outsiders," 16 Sep. 2019 These residents came five miles from Beecher Michigan to get clean water. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "A man built a homemade machine to bring endless water to the Bahamas. You already know the science," 16 Sep. 2019 The owner wore a crisp white shirt and had clean, soft hands and was the only guy in the lube shop whose face and clothes weren’t smeared in oil and grease. John Carlisle, Freep.com, "Detroit flower man grows hope, brings beauty to community," 12 Sep. 2019 The lack of access to toilets, clean water and medications puts tens of thousands at risk for disease, public health experts warn. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Hurricane Dorian Is Gone. But the Bahamas Still Faces a Big Risk From Infectious Disease," 12 Sep. 2019 However, some major agricultural unions support the repeal, saying the clean water act encroached on farmers’ property rights. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Is The Tech Sector Going On Climate Strike? — The Loop," 17 Sep. 2019 Buc-ee’s, famous for its food, clean bathrooms and friendliness, will open in early 2021 at the corner of Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard, according to Fox 35. Ricky Pinela, orlandosentinel.com, "Popular gas station Buc-ee’s to open its first Florida location: report," 16 Sep. 2019 Keeping newer, cleaner oil in there may help reduce the burn rate too. Ray Magliozzi, courant.com, "Car Talk: One small sweat for mankind," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Lyles’ glass-cleaning work continues A surprise starter at center to open the season, Trey Lyles has continued to perform yeoman’s work on the glass. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "Spurs notebook: Derrick White takes charge — after charge," 6 Nov. 2019 Villagers began to dig up loved ones’ bones to clean, sun-bleach, and paint them. Danielle Page, National Geographic, "Why is this Bronze Age town so popular today?," 4 Nov. 2019 Because the women who had been the girls in my youth are now these seemingly ordinary women who raise children and go to work, and come home and watch TV and clean their homes, and just live these very ordinary lives. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "For Author Jaquira Diaz, Home Is a Moving Target," 21 Oct. 2019 The oversize embellishment added a pop to clean-silhouetted gowns, as shown in Carolina Herrera’s collection with a stylized bow on a ball gown with pockets. Ivy Manners, New York Times, "What We Saw at New York Bridal Fashion Week," 10 Oct. 2019 The researchers cleaned, greased, and calibrated it while downloading data. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019 Regarded as one of the worst oils spills in history, the Deepwater Horizon incident is expected to cost BP nearly $62 billion in litigation and clean-up costs. Hanna Ziady, CNN, "Bob Dudley rescued BP from its Deepwater Horizon crisis. His successor may have an even bigger challenge," 4 Oct. 2019 The experiments usually require enormous tanks of liquid—dry-cleaning fluid, water, heavy water, mineral oil, chlorine, or gallium, for example, depending on the experimental setup. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Weighing in: Physicists cut upper limit on neutrino’s mass in half," 19 Sep. 2019 Look for wet-mopping, dusting, vacuuming, and steam-cleaning versions too. Nicole Saporita, Good Housekeeping, "The House the Seal Built," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The clean-up was organized by community member Shaniqua Rose, who runs the organization Change for the Community and a bi-monthly youth program called TrashUP. Tess Sheets, orlandosentinel.com, "Volunteers gather to clean up Parramore to put ‘unity back in community’," 26 Oct. 2019 In its statement, USB-IF pointed to the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification as an example of its successful clean-up efforts, although that example also underscores just how bad the problem was. Wired, "USB-C Has Finally Come Into Its Own," 10 Oct. 2019 When all the spinach is cooked and cool enough to handle, wrap it in a clean, dry dish towel and squeeze out all the excess water. CBS News, "Recipes from pasta master Evan Funke," 28 Sep. 2019 An environmental clean-up several years ago ensured no ammunition remained on the grounds. Anna Bauman, SFChronicle.com, "Fire breaks out at Mare Island Preserve in Vallejo, reports blame copper thieves," 25 Sep. 2019 Thousands of weary travelers were repatriated to the U.K. on Tuesday as part of a clean-up operation spelling the end of Thomas Cook’s long and storied history. NBC News, "Huge repatriation effort spells end to Thomas Cook's long and storied history," 24 Sep. 2019 Most of the residents were OK with the idea that the park could use a clean-up, but not with the aggressiveness of the tactics. Washington Post, "Mobile home parks move from mom-and-pop to corporate," 16 Sep. 2019 Both overnight and deep cleans are more extensive in terms of the time and crew allocated. Joshua Brockman, New York Times, "Should You Worry About Getting Sick From a Plane Flight? Maybe," 5 Feb. 2018 The escape of a little white lie teaches a clean-cut teenager to use the high-school rumor mill to her advantage. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 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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Statistics for clean

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for clean

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

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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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