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Words nearby squeaky-clean
What does squeaky-clean mean?
Squeaky-clean means completely clean—as clean as possible.
The term comes from the squeaky sound that often happens when you run your finger over a smooth, clean surface, like a countertop of a windowpane, or when you rub a strand of wet hair after it’s been washed.
Squeaky-clean is also commonly used in a figurative way to describe someone who is known for having a wholesome and virtuous reputation. It can also be used to describe such a reputation or the actions of such a person.
When it’s used in this way, squeaky-clean can be used both positively and negatively. When used positively, it typically indicates that someone is completely honorable and upstanding, as in Unfortunately for his enemies, the mayor is squeaky-clean—they’ll never be able to dig up any dirt on him.
However, it often implies that a person’s reputation or public image is fake, artificial, or has been constructed to hide what they’re really like. It can also be used to imply that such virtuousness is excessive or irritating, as in I can’t understand why kids enjoy these squeaky-clean boy bands—what happened to teenage rebellion and rock-’n’-roll?
Both senses of squeaky-clean are used informally.
Example: The floors in my mother-in-law’s house are always so squeaky-clean that you could eat off of them.
Where does squeaky-clean come from?
The term squeaky-clean has been used since at least the 1930s.
Over the years, use of the term has been popular in advertisements and commercials for cleaning supplies and hair products, such as dish soap and shampoo. However, haircare experts debate whether hair should actually be squeaky-clean after you wash it, with some saying that this means it is too dry or has been stripped of its natural oils. Squeaky-clean can also be used to describe things that have been thoroughly cleaned in some other way, such as a computer hard drive that has been fully wiped of data.
The figurative sense of squeaky-clean is often used in a negative way in the context of politicians and celebrities whose upstanding public image seems a bit too carefully constructed.
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How is squeaky-clean used in real life?
The literal sense of squeaky-clean is typically used in the context of cleaning products and hygiene products, especially hair products. Its figurative sense is often used in the contexts of politics, often in a negative way.
Dust doesn't quit. And while it may feel that dust returns almost as soon as you wipe it away, keeping it at bay—and maintaining those squeaky-clean surfaces—is actually easier than you thought. https://t.co/Yq2CnT1d9u
— nicole hubbard (@hubbardsmaids) February 23, 2020
— Variety (@Variety) August 28, 2017
I’m not voting for him, but it’s odd that an article about Mayor Pete being a squeaky clean moderate and comparing him to Mitt Romney never mentions that he’s gay. It’s like when Bernie is labeled a white male and it’s downplayed that he’s Jewish, as if no voters hate him for it. https://t.co/JhHWMobmep
— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) January 1, 2020
Try using squeaky-clean!
Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym of squeaky-clean?
Example sentences from the Web for squeaky-clean
With Charlie Hebdo, “you really have a clean case here,” Shearer said.
This is a guy who has his son-in-law clean his eyeglasses, for crying out loud.
Millions of dollars in renovation later the building is gorgeous—Clean, well-kept, organized.His First Day Out Of Jail After 40 Years: Adjusting To Life Outside|Justin Rohrlich|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
“Clean as a whistle,” says a senior investigator involved in the case.
Clean-shaven and balding, Saleem is in his forties and walks with a limp.The Dangerous Drug-Funded Secret War Between Iran and Pakistan|Umar Farooq|December 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He shall give his mind to finish the glazing, and his watching to make clean the furnace.
And I will turn my hand to thee, and I will clean purge away thy dross, and I will take away all thy tin.
A groom is a chap, that a gentleman keeps to clean his 'osses, and be blown up, when things go wrong.
The sun was palely shining upon dry, clean pavements and upon roads juicy with black mud.Hilda Lessways|Arnold Bennett
Who could have believed that only a fortnight ago these same figures were clean as new pins; smart and well-liking!Gallipoli Diary, Volume I|Ian Hamilton