the act of a person or thing that clears; the process of becoming clear.
a tract of land, as in a forest, that contains no trees or bushes.
the reciprocal exchange between banks of checks and drafts, and the settlement of the differences.
clearings, the total of claims settled at a clearinghouse.

Origin of clearing

First recorded in 1350–1400, clearing is from the Middle English word clering. See clear, -ing1
Related formsun·clear·ing, adjective



adjective, clear·er, clear·est.

free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness; light: a clear day.
transparent; pellucid: clear water.
without discoloration, defect, or blemish: a clear complexion; a clear pane of glass.
of a pure, even color: a clear yellow.
easily seen; sharply defined: a clear outline.
distinctly perceptible to the ear; easily heard: a clear sound.
free from hoarse, harsh, or rasping qualities: a clear voice; clear as a bell.
easily understood; without ambiguity: clear, concise answers.
entirely comprehensible; completely understood: The ultimate causes of inflation may never be clear.
distinct; evident; plain: a clear case of misbehavior.
free from confusion, uncertainty, or doubt: clear thinking.
perceiving or discerning distinctly: a clear mind.
convinced; certain: He was not clear on the first point that she made but agreed with the others.
free from anything that would disturb or blame: a clear conscience.
free from suspicion of guilt or complicity: She was entirely clear of the crime until one of her accomplices turned informer.
serene; calm; untroubled: a clear brow.
free from obstructions or obstacles; open: a clear view; a clear path.
free from entanglement or contact: He kept clear of her after the argument. She managed to keep her dress clear of the mud.
without limitation or qualification; absolute: a clear victory.
free from obligation, liability, or debt: After twenty years, our house is clear of the mortgage. Municipal bonds were returning as much as 9 percent, clear of taxes.
without deduction or diminution: a clear $1000 after taxes.
freed or emptied of contents, cargo, etc.
(of tree trunks or timber) free from branches, knots, or other protruding or rough parts: The trunk was clear for 20 feet above the ground.
  1. (of an l-sound) having front-vowel resonance; situated before a vowel in the same syllable.Compare dark(def 16a).
  2. (of a speech sound) produced without frication or aspiration.
(in cryptography) not coded or enciphered.Compare plaintext.
bright; shining: a clear flame.
Obsolete. illustrious.

adverb, clear·er, clear·est.

in a clear or distinct manner; clearly.
so as not to be in contact with or near; away (often followed by of): Stand clear of the closing doors.
entirely; completely; clean: to cut a piece clear off; to climb clear to the top; to run clear off the road.

verb (used with object)

to remove people or objects from (usually followed by of): to clear a courtroom of photographers; to clear the table of dishes.
to remove (people or objects) (usually followed by from): to clear the photographers from the courtroom; to clear the dishes from the table.
to make clear, transparent, or pellucid; free from cloudiness or impurities: to clear a liquid by means of a filter.
to make free of confusion, doubt, or uncertainty: He spoke to his supervisor to clear his mind about their working relationship.
to make understandable or lucid; free from ambiguity or obscurity: She rephrased the report in order to clear the essential points.
to make (a path, road, etc.) by removing any obstruction: He had to cut away the underbrush to clear a path.
to eat all the food on: to clear one's plate.
to relieve (the throat) of some obstruction, as phlegm, by forcing air through the larynx, usually producing a rasping sound.
to make a similar rasping noise in (the throat), as to express disapproval or to attract attention.
to remove from (the brow) any traces of tension or anxiety, as folds or wrinkles.
to free of anything defamatory or discrediting: to clear one's name.
to free from suspicion, accusation, or imputation of guilt; prove or declare innocent: The jury cleared the defendant of the charge.
to remove instructions or data from (a computer, calculator, etc.).
to pass by or over without contact or entanglement: The ship cleared the reef. The fisherman cleared his line.
to pass through or away from: The ship cleared the harbor. The bill cleared the Senate.
to pass (checks or other commercial paper) through a clearinghouse.
(of mail, telephone calls, etc.) to process, handle, reroute, etc.: The dispatcher clears hundreds of items each day.
to free from debt: Just a few dollars more would clear him. The widow had to borrow money to clear her husband's estate.
to gain as clear profit: to clear $1000 in a transaction.
to pay (a debt) in full.
to receive authorization before taking action on: You'll have to clear your plan with headquarters.
to give clearance to; authorize: The chairperson has to clear our speeches before the meeting.
to authorize (a person, agency, etc.) to use classified information, documents, etc.: He has finally been cleared for highly classified information.
to remove trees, buildings, or other obstructions from (land), as for farming or construction.
to free (a ship, cargo, etc.) from legal detention at a port by satisfying customs and other requirements.
to try or otherwise dispose of (the cases awaiting court action): to clear the docket.
(of a commodity) to buy up or sell out the existing supply of.
Skin Diving. to drain or expel unwanted water in: to clear a snorkel by sharp exhalations; to clear a regulator and face mask while underwater.
Bridge. to establish one or more winning cards in (a given suit) by leading the suit until all the outstanding cards have been drawn: He cleared the heart suit before attacking spades.

verb (used without object)

to become clear.
to exchange checks and bills, and settle balances, as in a clearinghouse.
to become free from doubt, anxiety, misunderstanding, etc.: His mind cleared when he heard the truth.
to pass an authority for review, approval, etc.: The bill must clear through the assembly before it becomes legal.
to remove dishes, food, etc., from a table following a meal: Is it my turn to clear?
to remove previously inserted instructions or data from a computer, calculator, typewriter, or the like.
  1. to comply with customs and other requirements legally imposed on entering or leaving a port (often followed by in or out).
  2. to leave port after having complied with such requirements.
(of a commodity for sale) to sell out; become bought out: Wheat cleared rapidly.


a clear or unobstructed space.
a piece of clear lumber.

Verb Phrases

clear away/off,
  1. to remove in order to make room.
  2. to leave; escape: We were warned to clear off before the floods came.
  3. to disappear; vanish: When the smoke cleared away, we saw that the house was in ruins.
clear out,
  1. to remove the contents of: Clear out the closet.
  2. to remove; take away: Clear out your clothes from the closet.
  3. to go away, especially quickly or abruptly.
  4. to drive or force out: The police cleared out the pickets by force.
clear up,
  1. to make clear; explain; solve.
  2. to put in order; tidy up.
  3. to become better or brighter, as the weather.

Origin of clear

1250–1300; Middle English clere < Anglo-French, Old French cler < Latin clārus
Related formsclear·a·ble, adjectiveclear·ness, nounhalf-clear, adjectivehalf-clear·ly, adverbpre·clear, verb (used with object)un·clear, adjectiveun·clear·ly, adverbun·clear·a·ble, adjectiveun·cleared, adjectivewell-cleared, adjective

Synonyms for clear

Synonym study

3. See clean.

Antonyms for clear

1. cloudy, dark. 8, 10. obscure. 13. uncertain. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for clearing

clearance, expanse, opening, dell, glade, gap, margin, allowance, headroom

Examples from the Web for clearing

Contemporary Examples of clearing

Historical Examples of clearing

  • Now he scanned the trees on the edge of the clearing with painful anxiety.

  • The thousand or so human beings who crowded the clearing might not have existed.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "I guess you don't like the table here," she observed icily, clearing away.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • "Well, I 'most wish we'd had her come home," said he at last, clearing his throat.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • On her way back she had to pass through the woods, where, on one side, was a clearing.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

British Dictionary definitions for clearing



an area with few or no trees or shrubs in wooded or overgrown land



free from darkness or obscurity; bright
(of weather) free from dullness or clouds
transparentclear water
even and pure in tone or colourclear blue
without discoloration, blemish, or defecta clear skin
easy to see or hear; distinct
free from doubt or confusionhis instructions are not clear
(postpositive) certain in the mind; sureare you clear?
(in combination) perceptive, alertclear-headed
evident or obviousit is clear that he won't come now
(of sounds or the voice) not harsh or hoarse
serene; calm
without qualification or limitation; completea clear victory
free of suspicion, guilt, or blamea clear conscience
free of obstruction; opena clear passage
free from debt or obligation
(of money, profits, etc) without deduction; net
emptied of freight or cargo
(of timber) having a smooth, unblemished surface
Also: in clear (of a message, etc) not in code
Also: light phonetics denoting an (l) in whose articulation the main part of the tongue is brought forward giving the sound of a front-vowel timbre
showjumping (of a round) ridden without any fences being knocked down or any points being lost


in a clear or distinct manner
completely or utterly
(postpositive often foll by of) not in contact (with); freestand clear of the gates


a clear space
another word for clearance
in the clear
  1. free of suspicion, guilt, or blame
  2. sportable to receive a pass without being tackled


to make or become free from darkness, obscurity, etc
  1. (of the weather) to become free from dullness, fog, rain, etc
  2. (of mist, fog, etc) to disappear
(tr) to free from impurity or blemish
(tr) to free from doubt or confusionto clear one's mind
(tr) to rid of objects, obstructions, etc
(tr) to make or form (a path, way, etc) by removing obstructions
(tr) to free or remove (a person or thing) from something, such as suspicion, blame, or guilt
(tr) to move or pass by or over without contact or involvementhe cleared the wall easily
(tr) to rid (the throat) of phlegm or obstruction
(tr) to make or gain (money) as profit
(tr often foll by off) to discharge or settle (a debt)
(tr) to free (a debtor) from obligation
(intr) (of a cheque) to pass through one's bank and be charged against one's account
banking to settle accounts by exchanging (commercial documents) in a clearing house
to permit (ships, aircraft, cargo, passengers, etc) to unload, disembark, depart, etc, after fulfilling the customs and other requirements, or (of ships, etc) to be permitted to unload, etc
to obtain or give (clearance)
(tr) to obtain clearance from
(tr) microscopy to make (specimens) transparent by immersion in a fluid such as xylene
(tr) to permit (a person, company, etc) to see or handle classified information
(tr) military
  1. to achieve transmission of (a signalled message) and acknowledgment of its receipt at its destination
  2. to decode (a message, etc)
(tr) sport to hit, kick, carry, or throw (the ball) out of the defence area
(tr) computing to remove data from a storage device and replace it with particular characters that usually indicate zero
(tr) NZ to remove (trees, scrub, etc) from land
clear the air See air (def. 11)
clear the decks to prepare for action, as by removing obstacles from a field of activity or combat
Derived Formsclearable, adjectiveclearer, nounclearness, noun

Word Origin for clear

C13 clere, from Old French cler, from Latin clārus clear, bright, brilliant, illustrious
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 clearing

late 14c., "action of making clear," verbal noun from clear (v.). Meaning "land cleared of wood" is from 1818, American English.



late 13c., "bright," from Old French cler "clear" (of sight and hearing), "light, bright, shining; sparse" (12c., Modern French clair), from Latin clarus "clear, loud," of sounds; figuratively "manifest, plain, evident," in transferred use, of sights, "bright, distinct;" also "illustrious, famous, glorious" (source of Italian chiaro, Spanish claro), from PIE *kle-ro-, from root *kele- (2) "to shout" (see claim (v.)).

The sense evolution involves an identification of the spreading of sound and the spreading of light (cf. English loud, used of colors; German hell "clear, bright, shining," of pitch, "distinct, ringing, high"). Of complexion, from c.1300; of the weather, from late 14c.; of meanings or explanations, "manifest to the mind, comprehensible," c.1300. (An Old English word for this was sweotol "distinct, clear, evident.") Sense of "free from encumbrance," apparently nautical, developed c.1500. Phrase in the clear attested from 1715. Clear-sighted is from 1580s (clear-eyed is from 1529s); clear-headed is from 1709.



late 14c., "to fill with light," from clear (adj.). Of weather, from late 14c. Meaning "make clear in the mind" is mid-15c., as is sense of "to remove what clouds." Meaning "to prove innocent" is from late 15c. Meaning "get rid of" is from 1530s.

Meaning "to free from entanglement" is from 1590s; that of "pass without entanglement" is from 1630s. Meaning "to leap clear over" is first attested 1791. Meaning "get approval for" (a proposal, etc.) is from 1944; meaning "establish as suitable for national security work" is from 1948. Related: Cleared; clearing.

To clear (one's) throat is from 1881; earlier clear (one's) voice (1701). To clear out "depart, leave" (1825), perhaps is from the notion of ships satisfying customs, harbor regulations, etc., then setting sail. To clear up is from 1620s, of weather; 1690s as "make clear to the mind." Clear the decks is what is done on a ship before it moves.



"quite, entirely, wholly," c.1300, from clear (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with clearing


In addition to the idioms beginning with clear

  • clear as a bell
  • clear as crystal
  • clear as mud
  • clear away
  • clear off
  • clear one's name
  • clear out
  • clear the air
  • clear the decks
  • clear the table
  • clear up
  • clear with

also see:

  • coast is clear
  • free and clear
  • have a clear conscience
  • in the clear
  • loud and clear
  • out of a clear blue sky
  • see one's way (clear)
  • steer clear of
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.