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[hous-klee-ning] /ˈhaʊsˌkli nɪŋ/
the act of cleaning a house, room, etc., and its furnishings, especially the act of cleaning thoroughly and completely.
the act of improving or reforming by weeding out excess or corrupt personnel or of revising methods of operation.
Origin of housecleaning
First recorded in 1860-65; house + cleaning


[hous-kleen] /ˈhaʊsˌklin/
verb (used with object)
to subject (a house, room, etc.) to housecleaning.
verb (used without object)
to engage in housecleaning.
First recorded in 1860-65; back formation from housecleaning
Related forms
housecleaner, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for house-cleaning
Historical Examples
  • All were bare and disorderly, because, as the woman explained, house-cleaning was in progress.

    Days Off

    Henry Van Dyke
  • Preserving-time was a prolonged festival, and house-cleaning was like a revolution.

    My Antonia Willa Cather
  • Retty was full of work and house-cleaning, and her lover had come on.

    A Little Girl in Old New York Amanda Millie Douglas
  • It is only the excess of this form of nature's house-cleaning which needs to be checked.

    Preventable Diseases Woods Hutchinson
  • house-cleaning is one thing that I never saw in practice or evidence.

    An Ohio Woman in the Philippines Emily Bronson Conger
  • Today she had been house-cleaning, and had brought some treasures downstairs.

    Sisters Kathleen Norris
  • A pleasant way of doing this is to give a house-cleaning party.

  • From the 1st to the 10th spring house-cleaning will take place.

  • I'm afraid of what may be uncovered there when the house-cleaning begins.

    The Landloper Holman Day
  • The same is true of the equipments for house-cleaning and for washing the dishes.

    Woman and Socialism August Bebel
Slang definitions & phrases for house-cleaning



A reorganization of a business or government department, esp with dismissal of incompetent or dishonest employees; shake-up: Honest cops, instead of welcoming a house-cleaning, resent it (1928+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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