verb (used with object)

to time, test, or determine by means of a clock or watch: The racehorse was clocked at two minutes thirty seconds.
Slang. to strike sharply or heavily: Somebody clocked him on the face.

Verb Phrases

clock in, to begin work, especially by punching a time clock: She clocked in at 9 on the dot.
clock out, to end work, especially by punching a time clock: He clocked out early yesterday.


    around the clock,
    1. during all 24 hours; ceaselessly.
    2. without stopping for rest; tirelessly: working around the clock to stem the epidemic.
    clean (someone's) clock, to defeat; vanquish.
    kill the clock, Sports. to use up as much game time as possible when one is winning, as to protect a lead in basketball, ice hockey, or football.Also run out the clock.
    stop the clock, to postpone an official or legal deadline by ceasing to count the hours that elapse, as when a new union contract must be agreed upon before an old contract runs out.

Origin of clock

1350–1400; Middle English clok(ke) < Middle Dutch clocke bell, clock; akin to Old English clucge, Old High German glocka (German Glocke), Old Irish clocc bell; cf. cloak Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for clean someone's clock




a timepiece, usually free-standing, hanging, or built into a tower, having mechanically or electrically driven pointers that move constantly over a dial showing the numbers of the hoursCompare digital clock, watch (def. 7)
any clocklike device for recording or measuring, such as a taximeter or pressure gauge
the downy head of a dandelion that has gone to seed
an electrical circuit that generates pulses at a predetermined rate
computing an electronic pulse generator that transmits streams of regular pulses to which various parts of the computer and its operations are synchronized
short for time clock
around the clock or round the clock all day and all night
the clock an informal word for speedometer, mileometer
British a slang word for face
against the clock
  1. under pressure, as to meet a deadline
  2. (in certain sports, such as show jumping) timed by a stop clockthe last round will be against the clock
put the clock back to regress


(tr) British, Australian and NZ slang to strike, esp on the face or head
(tr) British slang to see or notice
(tr) to record time as with a stopwatch, esp in the calculation of speed
electronics to feed a clock pulse to (a digital device) in order to cause it to switch to a new state
Derived Formsclocker, nounclocklike, adjective

Word Origin for clock

C14: from Middle Dutch clocke clock, from Medieval Latin clocca bell, ultimately of Celtic origin




an ornamental design either woven in or embroidered on the side of a stocking

Word Origin for clock

C16: from Middle Dutch clocke, from Medieval Latin clocca bell
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

Word Origin and History for clean someone's clock



late 14c., clokke, originally "clock with bells," probably from Middle Dutch clocke (Dutch klok) "a clock," from Old North French cloque (Old French cloke, Modern French cloche), from Medieval Latin (7c.) clocca "bell," probably from Celtic (cf. Old Irish clocc, Welsh cloch, Manx clagg "a bell") and spread by Irish missionaries (unless the Celtic words are from Latin); ultimately of imitative origin.

Replaced Old English dægmæl, from dæg "day" + mæl "measure, mark" (see meal (n.1)). The Latin word was horologium; the Greeks used a water-clock (klepsydra, literally "water thief"). Image of put (or set) the clock back "return to an earlier state or system" is from 1862. Round-the-clock (adj.) is from 1943, originally in reference to bomber air raids.



"to time by the clock," 1883, from clock (n.1). The slang sense of "hit, sock" is 1941, originally Australian, probably from earlier slang clock (n.) "face" (1923). Related: Clocked; clocking.



"ornament pattern on a stocking," 1520s, probably identical with clock (n.1) in its older sense and meaning "bell-shaped ornament."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with clean someone's clock

clean someone's clock

Beat, thrash, or defeat someone decisively, as in He's much bigger than you and could easily clean your clock. This term originated in the military. The use of clock is unclear but possibly alludes to hitting someone in the face (for “clockface”). [Slang; mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with clock

  • clock in
  • clock is ticking, the
  • clock up

also see:

  • against the clock
  • beat the clock
  • clean someone's clock
  • like clock-work
  • set back (the clock)
  • stop someone's clock
  • stop the clock
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.