Nearby words

  1. clayton-bulwer treaty,
  2. claytonia,
  3. clc,
  4. cld.,
  5. clea,
  6. clean and jerk,
  7. clean as a whistle,
  8. clean bill of health,
  9. clean breast,
  10. clean eating


Origin of clean

before 900; Middle English clene, Old English clǣne pure, clear, cognate with Old High German kleini (German klein small)

1. dirty. 17. contaminated, radioactive. 35. soil.

Related forms
Can be confusedclean cleanse (see synonym study at the current entry)cleanliness cleanness

Synonym study

1. 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. 35. 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clean-up

British Dictionary definitions for clean-up



without dirt or other impurities; unsoiled
without anything in it or on ita clean page
recently washed; fresh
without extraneous or foreign materials
without defect, difficulties, or problemsa clean test flight
  1. (of a nuclear weapon) producing little or no radioactive fallout or contamination
  2. uncontaminatedCompare dirty (def. 11)
(of a wound, etc) having no pus or other sign of infection
pure; morally sound
without objectionable language or obscenitya clean joke
(of printer's proofs, etc) relatively free from errors; easily readableclean copy
thorough or completea clean break
dexterous or adroita clean throw
sport played fairly and without fouls
simple in designa ship's clean lines
aeronautics causing little turbulence; streamlined
(of an aircraft) having no projections, such as rockets, flaps, etc, into the airstream
honourable or respectable
habitually neat
(esp of a driving licence) showing or having no record of offences
  1. innocent; not guilty
  2. not carrying illegal drugs, weapons, etc
nautical (of a vessel)
  1. having its bottom clean
  2. having a satisfactory bill of health
Old Testament
  1. (of persons) free from ceremonial defilement
  2. (of animals, birds, and fish) lawful to eat
New Testament morally and spiritually pure
clean sweep See sweep (def. 33)


to make or become free of dirt, filth, etcthe stove cleans easily
(tr) to remove in making cleanto clean marks off the wall
(tr) to prepare (fish, poultry, etc) for cookingto clean a chicken


in a clean way; cleanly
not standard (intensifier)clean forgotten; clean dead
clean bowled cricket bowled by a ball that breaks the wicket without hitting the batsman or his bat
come clean informal to make a revelation or confession


the act or an instance of cleaninghe gave his shoes a clean

Derived Formscleanable, adjectivecleanness, noun

Word Origin for clean

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

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-up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with clean-up


In addition to the idioms beginning with clean

  • clean as a whistle
  • clean bill of health
  • clean breast
  • clean hands, have
  • clean house
  • cleanliness is next to godliness
  • clean out
  • clean slate
  • clean someone's clock
  • clean sweep
  • clean up

also see:

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