adjective, neat·er, neat·est.


Informal. neatly.

Origin of neat

1300–50; Middle English net spruce, trim, clean < Middle French < Latin nitidus shining, polished, handsome, spruce, equivalent to nit(ēre) to shine + -idus -id4
Related formsneat·ly, adverbneat·ness, noun

Synonyms for neat

Antonyms for neat

1. sloppy. 6. maladroit. 7. mixed.



noun, plural neat.

an animal of the genus Bos; a bovine, as a cow or ox.

Origin of neat

before 900; Middle English neet, Old English nēat, cognate with Old Norse naut, Middle Dutch noot; akin to Old English nēotan to use, possess Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for neat

Contemporary Examples of neat

Historical Examples of neat

  • Katy is away for the night, you know, and I'm sure her room is as neat and pretty as can be.

  • He brought forth from a pocket a neat sheaf of banknotes, which he held out.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • She had been so neat and orderly about everything and had kept him so clean from a baby up.

  • The clumsy framework of the receiver was reduced to a neat and portable size.

  • In English, French, and Arabic, the reason was announced in neat print.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for neat




clean, tidy, and orderly
liking or insisting on order and cleanliness; fastidious
smoothly or competently done; efficienta neat job
pat or slickhis excuse was suspiciously neat
(of alcoholic drinks) without added water, lemonade, etc; undiluted
a less common word for net 2 neat profits
slang, mainly US and Canadian good; pleasing; admirable
Derived Formsneatly, adverbneatness, noun

Word Origin for neat

C16: from Old French net, from Latin nitidus clean, shining, from nitēre to shine; related to Middle Irish niam beauty, brightness, Old Persian naiba- beautiful



noun plural neat

archaic, or dialect a domestic bovine animal

Word Origin for neat

Old English neat
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 neat

1540s, "clean, free from dirt," from Anglo-French neit, Middle French net "clear, pure" (12c.), from Latin nitidus "well-favored, elegant, trim," literally "gleaming," from nitere "to shine," from PIE root *nei- "to shine" (cf. Middle Irish niam "gleam, splendor," niamda "shining;" Old Irish noib "holy," niab "strength;" Welsh nwyfiant "gleam, splendor").

Meaning "inclined to be tidy" is from 1570s. Of liquor, "straight," c.1800, from meaning "unadulterated" (of wine), which is first attested 1570s. Informal sense of "very good" first recorded 1934 in American English; variant neato is teenager slang, first recorded 1968. Related: Neatly; neatness.


"ox, bullock, cow," Old English neat "ox, beast, animal," from Proto-Germanic *nautam "thing of value, possession" (cf. Old Frisian nat, Middle Dutch noot, Old High German noz, Old Norse naut), from PIE root *neud- "to make use of, enjoy."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper