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

Examples from the Web for neatly

Contemporary Examples of neatly

Historical Examples of neatly

  • But, alike, young and old are neatly and wholesomely dressed.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • They were neatly in order, and the berths had been made since they were used.

    Salvage in Space

    John Stewart Williamson

  • Yes; and so quickly, so neatly it was done, that I could not do aught to prevent it.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • She is neatly dressed, wears a silk fiché, and is as alert as ever.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • Sometimes he went out, wearing fresh linen and neatly combed.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for neatly




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 neatly



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