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 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

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

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 Hayes also scores as a bashful, clean-cut admirer of the much-older Judith. Tom Titus, Daily Pilot, "On Theater: A hilarious “Hay Fever” at the Attic," 16 Sep. 2019 The two soon became inseparable, with Mr. Liberman guiding Mr. Netanyahu in and out of weddings, bar mitzvahs and local party offices, always ready with a sandwich or a clean shirt. New York Times, "Israel Election Could Turn on Ugly Breakup of an Odd Couple," 16 Sep. 2019 Prenz Sa-Ngoun, a community organizer and former Buddhist monk, volunteered to stock the deli counter, wash dishes, clean and the run the cash register during the business’ final days. Erika Schultz, The Seattle Times, "Queen’s Deli in White Center nurtured the Khmer community," 16 Sep. 2019 The São Luiz Old Age Home is better than most in Brazil, clean and decent, with lots of warm touches. Diane Grosklaus Whitty, Harper's magazine, "Senior Portrait," 16 Sep. 2019 Pass protection Indianapolis was the league’s best team at keeping quarterbacks clean last season; the Colts gave up just 18 sacks on the year, and an ability to identify blitzes and pick them up might have been the team’s secret weapon. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Thumbs up, thumbs down: Colts get good and bad from Jacoby Brissett's second start," 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

Kelly has been cleaning house, and there’s little offensive talent left. Joseph Goodman, al, "Muschamp not ready for Tua; Jalen goes to Hollywood," 12 Sep. 2019 If someone is ill, hire a cleaning person for a day. Jackie Pilossoph, chicagotribune.com, "Column: When comforting someone, what can you really do to help?," 12 Sep. 2019 Tim and Lisa Simplot announced the launch of their Two Maids & A Mop home cleaning franchise in Woodbury, also serving St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Inver Grove Heights, Stillwater, Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo, Oakdale, and Afton. Pioneer Press, Twin Cities, "Business People: Alerus Financial files for IPO; APi, Kohnstamm acquired," 8 Sep. 2019 The crime and clean-up are believed to have occurred between 8:05 AM and 10:25 AM. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Jennifer Dulos disappearance: New arrest after DNA found on discarded car seats," 5 Sep. 2019 The home’s cleaning person, a Cleveland woman, 44, had set off the alarm. cleveland.com, "Man with flat tire on freeway flees police: Lyndhurst Police Blotter," 3 Sep. 2019 The groups crossed paths at feeding areas and cleaning stations before individual members went their own way and returned hours or days later. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "These manta rays form ‘friendships’ that last longer than a summer fling," 22 Aug. 2019 Residue of face powder coats the black granite countertops before an attendant swoops in with a cleaning rag. Laura Dimon, BostonGlobe.com, "New York’s hottest makeup counter: The Port Authority bathroom," 22 Aug. 2019 Each transfer costs $30 at Indy Arms, and while the buyer is there to pick up their new gun, they could be sold on other items, like range fees, ammunition or cleaning kits. Elizabeth Depompei, Indianapolis Star, "How Indiana gun sales would change if universal background checks become federal law," 16 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 There’s a newly ascendant breed of white supremacists who often look like–and may in fact be–the clean-cut guy next door. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "A Racist Seeks Redemption in Skin," 25 July 2019 The image of Peter breaking down at Tony’s tombstone also underscores that Tony’s sacrifice did not offer a clean-cut, happy ending. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Spider-Man: Far From Home starts slow. Then it swings for the stars.," 27 June 2019 Warren plans to cancel more than 95% of debt for American borrowers and wipe the educational debt slate clean for up to 75% of Americans. Kynala Phillips, Essence, "Bernie Sanders' New Plan Will Cancel All Student Loan Debt," 24 June 2019 Schools should teach children to pick up their litter and push them to keep the area around the school clean. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: The worst litter in my neighborhood is around schools," 13 June 2019 While some appreciate the top sheet, that flat sheet placed atop sleepers to keep blankets on the other side clean, others see it as an unnecessary addition that just ends up tangled at the bed's end. Kelsey Mcshane, USA TODAY, "Top sheet or no sheet? A surprisingly fierce debate uncovers strong opinions on bedding," 27 Mar. 2018 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," 13 Sep. 2019 Camuy Caves are closed while still undergoing post-hurricane clean-up, though good alternatives for spelunking travelers are Cueva Ventana and Cueva del Indio, all close by. Kathleen Squires, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Expect Traveling in Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico," 20 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

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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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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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about clean

Comments on clean

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