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[sleyt] /sleɪt/
a fine-grained rock formed by the metamorphosis of clay, shale, etc., that tends to split along parallel cleavage planes, usually at an angle to the planes of stratification.
a thin piece or plate of this rock or a similar material, used especially for roofing or as a writing surface.
a dull, dark bluish gray.
a list of candidates, officers, etc., to be considered for nomination, appointment, election, or the like.
verb (used with object), slated, slating.
to cover with or as with slate.
to write or set down for nomination or appointment:
the district leader slated for city judge.
to plan or designate (something) for a particular place and time; schedule:
The premiere was slated for January.
to censure or criticize harshly or violently; scold.
to punish severely.
clean slate, an unsullied record; a record marked by creditable conduct:
to start over with a clean slate.
Origin of slate1
1300-50; Middle English sclate < Middle French esclate, feminine of esclat piece split off; see slat1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for clean slate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Those were his very words, and you, I suppose, are the clean slate.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • If he could get a clean slate by a week from Monday, say, he might still be of some use to the team.

    Full-Back Foster

    Ralph Henry Barbour
  • "And we were hunting for a clean slate," I suggested satirically.

    Wanted: A Cook Alan Dale
  • As the reader knows, the Americans had no clean slate on which to write at Panama.

    The Panama Canal J. Saxon Mills
  • "You see, hon, I want to have a clean slate," he went on rather lamely.

    The Sheriff of Badger George B. Pattullo
British Dictionary definitions for clean slate


  1. a compact fine-grained metamorphic rock formed by the effects of heat and pressure on shale. It can be split into thin layers along natural cleavage planes and is used as a roofing and paving material
  2. (as modifier): a slate tile
a roofing tile of slate
(formerly) a writing tablet of slate
a dark grey colour, often with a purplish or bluish tinge
(mainly US & Canadian) a list of candidates in an election
  1. the reference information written on a clapperboard
  2. (informal) the clapperboard itself
clean slate, a record without dishonour
(Brit & Irish, informal) have a slate loose, to be eccentric or crazy
(Brit, informal) on the slate, on credit
(informal) wipe the slate clean, to make a fresh start, esp by forgetting past differences
verb (transitive)
to cover (a roof) with slates
(mainly US) to enter (a person's name) on a list, esp on a political slate
  1. to choose or destine: he was slated to go far
  2. to plan or schedule: the trial is slated to begin in three weeks
of the colour slate
Word Origin
C14: from Old French esclate, from esclat a fragment; see slat1


verb (transitive) (informal, mainly Brit)
to criticize harshly; censure
to punish or defeat severely
Word Origin
C19: probably from slate1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for clean slate



mid-14c., from Old French esclate, fem. of esclat "split piece, splinter" (Modern French éclat; see slat), so called because the rock splits easily into thin plates. As an adjective, 1510s. As a color, first recorded 1813. Sense of "a writing tablet" (made of slate), first recorded late 14c., led to that of "list of preliminary candidates prepared by party managers," first recorded 1842, from notion of being easily altered or erased. Clean slate (1856) is an image from customer accounts chalked up in a tavern.



1520s, "to cover with slates" (earlier sclatten, late 15c.), from slate (n.). Meaning "propose, schedule" is from 1883; earlier "to nominate" (1804); the notion is of writing on a slate board. Related: Slated; slating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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clean slate in Science
A fine-grained metamorphic rock that forms when shale undergoes metamorphosis. Slate splits into thin layers with smooth surfaces. It ranges in color from gray to black or from red to green, depending on the minerals contained in the shale from which it formed.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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clean slate in Culture

clean slate definition

A new start; especially to make a new start by clearing the record. This phrase comes from the use of chalk and slates in classrooms in the past. By wiping the slate clean, a student could remove any evidence of a mistake.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with clean slate

clean slate

A fresh start; another chance after wiping out old offenses or debts. This idiom often appears aswipe the slate clean. For example, Henry's boss assured him that the matter was finished and he could start with a clean slate, or He wished he could wipe the slate clean, but it was too late to salvage the relationship. This expression alludes to the slate boards on which school work or tavern bills were recorded in easily wiped-off chalk. Since 1850 or so the term has been used figuratively, and it has long outlived the practice of writing on slate.


In addition to the idiom beginning with slate also see: clean slate
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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