in the clear,
    1. absolved of blame or guilt; free: He was suspected of the theft, but evidence put him in the clear.
    2. en clair.

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

Examples from the Web for unclear

Contemporary Examples of unclear

Historical Examples of unclear

British Dictionary definitions for unclear



not clear or definite; ambiguous
Derived Formsunclearly, adverbunclearness, noun



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 unclear

c.1300, "not easy to understand," from un- (1) "not" + clear (adj.). Cf. Middle Dutch onclaer, Dutch onklaar, German unklar, Old Norse uklarr, Danish uklar, Swedish oklar. Of persons, in sense of "uncertain, doubtful," it is recorded from 1670s. Uncleared is recorded from 1630s in reference to debts, 1772 in reference to land.



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 unclear


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.