View synonyms for clean


[ kleen ]


, clean·er, clean·est.
  1. free from dirt; unsoiled; unstained:

    She bathed and put on a clean dress.

    Synonyms: immaculate, neat

    Antonyms: dirty

  2. free from foreign or extraneous matter:

    They filled the new sandbox with clean sand.

  3. free from pollution; unadulterated; pure:

    clean air;

    clean water.

  4. habitually free of dirt:

    Cats are considered clean animals.

  5. characterized by a fresh, wholesome quality:

    the clean smell of pine.

  6. free from all writing or marking:

    a clean sheet of paper.

  7. having few or no corrections; easily readable:

    The publisher demanded clean proofs from the printer.

    Synonyms: legible

  8. free from roughness or irregularity:

    He made a clean cut with a razor.

  9. not ornate; gracefully spare; forceful and simple; trim; streamlined:

    a clean literary style;

    the clean lines of a ship.

  10. complete; unqualified:

    She made a clean break from her old habits.

  11. morally upright; honorable:

    to lead a clean life.

    Synonyms: unsullied, virtuous, chaste

  12. showing good sportsmanship; fair:

    a clean fighter.

  13. inoffensive in language or content; without obscenity:

    Is this a clean movie?

  14. (of a document, record, etc.) bearing no marks of discreditable or unlawful conduct; listing no offenses:

    a clean driver's license.

  15. Informal.
    1. innocent of any crime.
    2. not having a criminal record.
    3. carrying or containing no evidence of unlawful activity or intent, such as controlled substances, unlicensed weapons, or contraband:

      The agents searched the car for drugs, but it was clean.

  16. Informal. not using addictive drugs:

    He’s been clean for three years now.

  17. (of a nuclear weapon) producing little or no radioactive fallout.
  18. not radioactive.

    Antonyms: radioactive

  19. (of a document or financial instrument) free from qualifications or restrictions:

    a clean bill of lading.

  20. free from defects or flaws:

    a clean diamond.

    Synonyms: flawless, unblemished

  21. free from encumbrances or obstructions.
  22. (of food) free of synthetic additives, unfamiliar ingredients, excessive amounts of sugar, salt, fat, etc.; not overly processed or refined:

    We sell only clean ice cream and confections in our cafe.

  23. neatly or evenly made or proportioned; shapely; trim:

    a clean profile.

  24. done without any difficulty or interference:

    The bank robbers made a clean getaway.

  25. dexterously performed; adroit:

    a clean serve in tennis.

  26. (of a jump over an obstacle) made without touching the obstacle.
  27. Slang. having no direct associations, business interests, etc., that could prejudice one's official acts or decisions:

    The new governor is clean because he's sold his construction business and doesn't owe political favors to anyone.

  28. Slang. without money or funds.
  29. (of wine) having a taste that is unusually refreshing and smooth.
  30. having no physical or moral blemish or carrying no taboo according to religious laws, especially dietary or ceremonial laws:

    The horse was not a clean animal for the Israelites, and could not be eaten.

  31. Nautical. (of an anchorage, harbor, etc.) free of obstructions or hazards ( foul ( def 15 ) ).
  32. (of the legs of a horse) free from injury or blemish, as capped hocks, splints, or scars.
  33. Foreign Exchange. (of currency floats) not influenced by exchange-rate manipulation ( dirty ( def 14 ) ).


, clean·er, clean·est.
  1. in a way that is not dirty, messy, unwholesome, overly complicated, etc.:

    With practice I’ve learned to write clean and crisp, without flashy ornamentation.

    After he got out of prison he decided to change his ways and live clean.

  2. so as to be free of dirt or stains:

    This shirt will never wash clean.

  3. Informal. wholly; completely; quite:

    The sharp carving knife sliced clean through the roast.

    In a year, he had gone clean through his inheritance.

    Synonyms: thoroughly, entirely

verb (used with object)

  1. to make free of dirt, stains, mess, trash, etc.:

    Clean those dirty shoes.

    I helped my dad clean the garage.

    Synonyms: wash, dust, mop, wipe, brush, sweep, scrub, scour, decontaminate, clear, purify, deterge, lave, rinse

    Antonyms: soil

  2. to remove or consume the contents of; empty; clear:

    She sat down to dinner ravenous and within five minutes had cleaned her plate.

  3. to remove the inedible parts from (poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, etc.):

    He caught the trout, cleaned it, and grilled it—all in 20 minutes.

    I’ll clean these strawberries and cut them up.

  4. Metallurgy. to remove the seams from (a casting) by filing or grinding.
  5. Philately. to intentionally delete the cancellation from (a postage or revenue stamp).

verb (used without object)

  1. to perform or undergo a process of cleaning:

    This kind of fabric cleans easily.

    Detergents clean better than most soaps.

  2. to get rid of dirt, soil, etc. (often followed by up ):

    to spend the morning cleaning.

verb phrase

    1. to empty in order to straighten or clean:

      I cleaned out my desk drawers and threw away a lot of junk.

    2. to use up; exhaust:

      He had cleaned out his savings.

    3. Informal. to drive out by force.
    4. to empty or rid (a place) of occupants, contents, etc.:

      Eager customers cleaned out the store on the first day of the sale.

      The thief cleaned out the safe.

    5. Slang. to cause to lose all or almost all one's money or possessions:

      Gambling eventually cleaned her out.

      I got cleaned out last night at poker—the cards were marked.

    1. to wash or tidy up:

      They came in from the barn and cleaned up for dinner.

      Clean up this mess in the hallway.

    2. to be washed or tidied up so as to leave no dirt, stains, mess, etc.:

      This new jacket of mine cleans up really nicely.

      The great thing about water-based paints is that they clean up so easily.

    3. Informal. to become more stylishly or formally dressed when needed, as for a social outing or business engagement:

      Wow, a suit and tie—you clean up pretty good!

    4. to rid of undesirable persons or features:

      They cleaned up the local bars.

    5. to put an end to; finish:

      to clean up yesterday's chores.

    6. Informal. to make a large profit:

      They cleaned up in the stock market.


/ kliːn /


  1. without dirt or other impurities; unsoiled
  2. without anything in it or on it

    a clean page

  3. recently washed; fresh
  4. without extraneous or foreign materials
  5. without defect, difficulties, or problems

    a clean test flight

    1. (of a nuclear weapon) producing little or no radioactive fallout or contamination
    2. uncontaminated Compare dirty
  6. (of a wound, etc) having no pus or other sign of infection
  7. pure; morally sound
  8. without objectionable language or obscenity

    a clean joke

  9. (of printer's proofs, etc) relatively free from errors; easily readable

    clean copy

  10. thorough or complete

    a clean break

  11. dexterous or adroit

    a clean throw

  12. sport played fairly and without fouls
  13. simple in design

    a ship's clean lines

  14. aeronautics causing little turbulence; streamlined
  15. (of an aircraft) having no projections, such as rockets, flaps, etc, into the airstream
  16. honourable or respectable
  17. habitually neat
  18. (esp of a driving licence) showing or having no record of offences
  19. slang.
    1. innocent; not guilty
    2. not carrying illegal drugs, weapons, etc
  20. nautical of a vessel
    1. having its bottom clean
    2. having a satisfactory bill of health
  21. Old Testament
    1. (of persons) free from ceremonial defilement
    2. (of animals, birds, and fish) lawful to eat
  22. New Testament morally and spiritually pure
  23. clean sweep
    See sweep
“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


  1. to make or become free of dirt, filth, etc

    the stove cleans easily

  2. tr to remove in making clean

    to clean marks off the wall

  3. tr to prepare (fish, poultry, etc) for cooking

    to clean a chicken

“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


  1. in a clean way; cleanly
  2. not_standard.

    clean dead

    clean forgotten

  3. clean bowled
    cricket bowled by a ball that breaks the wicket without hitting the batsman or his bat
  4. come clean informal.
    to make a revelation or confession
“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


  1. the act or an instance of cleaning

    he gave his shoes a clean

“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈcleanness, noun
  • ˈcleanable, adjective
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Other Words From

  • clean·ness noun
  • half-cleaned adjective
  • o·ver·clean adjective
  • o·ver·clean·ly adverb
  • o·ver·clean·ness noun
  • pre·clean verb (used with object)
  • re·clean verb (used with object)
  • su·per·clean adjective
  • un·cleaned adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of clean1

First recorded before 900; Middle English clene, Old English clǣne “pure, clear,” cognate with Old High German kleini ( German klein “small”)
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Word History and Origins

Origin of clean1

Old English clǣne; related to Old Frisian klēne small, neat, Old High German kleini
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Idioms and Phrases

  1. clean full, Nautical.
    1. (of a sail or sails) filled with wind; rap full.
    2. (of a sailing vessel) with all sails full of wind; rap full.
  2. clean house, to wipe out corruption, inefficiency, etc., as in an organization:

    It's time for the city government to clean house.

  3. come clean, Informal. to tell the truth, especially to admit one's guilt:

    When they offered him a plea bargain, he finally came clean.

  4. eat clean, to reduce one’s consumption of processed and refined foods in favor of whole foods:

    Raising our children to eat clean has been easier than we expected.

  5. clean up one's act. act ( def 29 ).

More idioms and phrases containing clean

  • come clean
  • have a clear (clean) conscience
  • keep one's nose clean
  • make a clean breast of
  • make a clean sweep
  • new broom sweeps clean
  • take to the cleaners
  • wipe the slate clean
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Synonym Study

Clean, clear, pure refer to freedom from soiling, flaw, stain, or mixture. Clean refers especially to freedom from soiling: a clean shirt. Clear refers particularly to freedom from flaw or blemish: a clear pane of glass. Pure refers especially to freedom from mixture or stain: a pure metal; not diluted but pure and full strength. Clean, cleanse refer to removing dirt or impurities. To clean is the general word with no implication of method or means: to clean windows, a kitchen, streets. Cleanse is especially used of thorough cleaning by chemical or other technical process; figuratively it applies to moral or spiritual purification: to cleanse parts of machinery; to cleanse one's soul of guilt.
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Example Sentences

It takes me the better part of an hour to load the dishwasher, hand-wash piles of other dishes, clean the counters and cooktop, and tidy the floor.

The player walks over to clean it up and walks away from Doyle.

Marty Schottenheimer, one of the NFL’s winningest coaches, dies at 77“It is our duty and our responsibility to present a clean case file to the prosecutor,” Capt.

He said that he’d isolate, then get a coronavirus test before coming into my home, showing up with a clean bill of health.

From Eater

After that, they say, it’s safe to rehang feeders — if you’re diligent about cleaning them.

With Charlie Hebdo, “you really have a clean case here,” Shearer said.

This is a guy who has his son-in-law clean his eyeglasses, for crying out loud.

Millions of dollars in renovation later the building is gorgeous—Clean, well-kept, organized.

“Clean as a whistle,” says a senior investigator involved in the case.

Clean-shaven and balding, Saleem is in his forties and walks with a limp.

He shall give his mind to finish the glazing, and his watching to make clean the furnace.

And I will turn my hand to thee, and I will clean purge away thy dross, and I will take away all thy tin.

A groom is a chap, that a gentleman keeps to clean his 'osses, and be blown up, when things go wrong.

The sun was palely shining upon dry, clean pavements and upon roads juicy with black mud.

Who could have believed that only a fortnight ago these same figures were clean as new pins; smart and well-liking!


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.