take to the cleaners

idiomatic phrase

informal
: to deprive (someone) of a large amount of money or possessions
"… I'll tell you one thing, though: I'm glad I wasn't paying for it. Kid, they'll take you to the cleaners. …"Danny DeVito
They looked … like the proverbial country bumpkins being taken to the cleaners by the city slickers.Jay Neugeboren
Many of us have heard the expression, "She took me to the cleaners." This is certainly a popular belief among [divorced] males, but is it really justified?J. Richard Kulerski

Word History

First Known Use

1924, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of take to the cleaners was in 1924

Dictionary Entries Near take to the cleaners

Cite this Entry

“Take to the cleaners.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20to%20the%20cleaners. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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