Meaning of CLEAN in English

I. clean 1 S2 W2 /kliːn/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative cleaner , superlative cleanest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cleaner , ↑ cleaning , ↑ cleanliness , ↑ clean , ↑ cleanser ; verb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanse ; adverb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanly ; adjective : ↑ clean ≠ ↑ unclean ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: clæne ]

1 . NOT DIRTY without any dirt, marks etc OPP dirty :

Are your hands clean?

clean towels

Make sure you keep the wound clean.

Wipe that sink clean when you’re done.

As usual, she left her room clean and tidy before going to school.

a spotlessly clean kitchen

I want you to get those plates as clean as a whistle.

2 . PEOPLE/ANIMALS having a clean appearance and habits:

Cats are naturally clean.

3 . ENVIRONMENT containing or producing nothing that is dirty or harmful ⇨ cleanly

clean air/water/energy etc

the Clean Air Act

cleaner fuels


a) done in a fair or legal way OPP dirty :

a clean fight

b) showing that you have followed the rules:

a clean driving licence

He’s got a clean record.

c) [not before noun] informal not hiding any weapons or illegal drugs:

They searched him, but he was clean.

d) [not before noun] no longer taking illegal drugs:

Dave’s been clean for two years now.

5 . NOT OFFENSIVE talk, jokes, behaviour etc that are clean are not offensive or about sex OPP dirty :

Oh, don’t get mad – it’s just good clean fun!

Keep it clean (=do not offend people with what you say) .

clean living (=a way of life which is healthy and moral)

6 . come clean informal to finally tell the truth about something you have been hiding

come clean about

The government should come clean about its plans.

7 . make a clean breast of it to admit that you have done something wrong so that you no longer feel guilty

8 . a clean break

a complete and sudden separation from a person, organization, or situation:

Den left the next day, needing to make a clean break.

9 . clean sheet/slate a record of someone’s work, behaviour, performance etc that shows they have not done anything wrong or made any mistakes:

Jed looked forward to starting life again with a clean sheet.

Lewis has kept a clean sheet in every game (=not let the other team score) .

10 . clean hands if a person, government, organization etc has clean hands, they have done something in a fair or legal way:

Neither side is coming to the negotiating table with completely clean hands.

11 . PAPER a piece of paper that is clean has not yet been used SYN fresh

12 . SMOOTH having a smooth or regular edge or surface ⇨ cleanly :

a clean cut

Use a clean simple typeface for signs.

13 . a clean bill of health a report that says you are healthy or that a machine or building is safe:

Inspectors gave the factory a clean bill of health.

14 . a clean sweep

a) a very impressive victory in a competition, election etc

a clean sweep for

All the polls had pointed to a clean sweep for the Democrats.

Hopes that the French would make a clean sweep at the Games were dashed.

b) a complete change in a company or organization, often by removing people

15 . TASTE having a fresh pleasant taste:

Add a little lemon juice to give the pasta a cool clean taste.

16 . clean copy a piece of writing without mistakes or other marks written on it

17 . MOVEMENT a clean movement in sport is skilful and exact:

He steadied his arm, hoping for a clean shot.

—cleanness noun [uncountable]

⇨ ↑ clean-cut , ⇨ keep your nose clean at ↑ nose 1 (9)

• • •


■ nouns

▪ clean clothes

He had a shower and changed into clean clothes.

▪ a clean shirt/sheet/towel etc

Where are all my clean socks?

▪ clean hands

Make sure you have clean hands before you eat.

■ verbs

▪ keep something clean

You should always keep your kitchen clean.

▪ wipe something clean (=use a cloth to clean a surface)

He started to wipe the blackboard clean.

▪ sweep/scrub something clean (=use a brush to clean something)

She quickly swept the floor clean.

▪ leave something clean

Please leave the apartment clean when you go.

■ adverbs

▪ spotlessly/scrupulously clean (=very clean)

Hospitals must be kept scrupulously clean.

▪ squeaky clean (=completely clean)

I like my hair to be squeaky clean.

■ phrases

▪ nice and clean (=clean)

Their job is to keep the streets nice and clean.

▪ clean and tidy especially BrE:

I insist my children keep their rooms clean and tidy.

▪ neat and clean especially AmE:

Her kids were always neat and clean.

▪ clean as a whistle (=very clean)

The place was clean as a whistle.

• • •


▪ clean without any dirt or marks:

They need clean water to drink.


I don’t have any clean clothes.

▪ pure water or air that is pure does not contain any dirt, pollution, or bacteria:

I breathed in the pure mountain air.

▪ sterile /ˈsteraɪl $ -rəl/ completely clean, with no bacteria, and therefore safe for medical or scientific use:

Place a sterile bandage on the wound.


sterile needles

▪ spotless completely clean – used mainly about rooms and clothes:

Her kitchen is always spotless.

▪ pristine /ˈprɪstiːn/ completely clean and new-looking:

He wore a pristine white shirt.

▪ immaculate as clean and tidy as it is possible to be:

The soldiers’ uniforms have to be immaculate.

▪ spick and span [not before noun] informal clean and tidy, especially after having just been cleaned:

By the end of the day, the whole place was spick and span.

II. clean 2 S1 W3 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cleaner , ↑ cleaning , ↑ cleanliness , ↑ clean , ↑ cleanser ; verb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanse ; adverb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanly ; adjective : ↑ clean ≠ ↑ unclean ]

1 . [intransitive and transitive] to remove dirt from something by rubbing or washing ⇨ cleanse :

Your shoes need cleaning.

Is it easy to clean?

clean something down/off

We clean the machines down at the end of each day.

clean something off/from something

He used a tissue to clean his fingerprints off the gun.

⇨ ↑ dry-clean , ⇨ spring-clean at ↑ spring-cleaning

2 . [intransitive and transitive] to clean a building or other people’s houses as your job:

Anne comes in to clean twice a week.

3 . clean your teeth British English to make your teeth clean using a ↑ toothbrush and ↑ toothpaste SYN brush your teeth American English

4 . [transitive] to remove the inside parts of an animal or bird before cooking it:

Harry caught the fish and cleaned them himself.

5 . clean your plate to eat all your food

• • •


▪ clean to remove dirt from something:

I need to clean the car.


Clean the mud off your shoes.

▪ wash to clean something with water and usually soap:

She’s washing her hair.


There’s nowhere to wash your clothes.

▪ wipe to clean a surface with a cloth, often a wet cloth:

Wipe the worktop when you’ve finished cooking.

▪ scrub to wash something by rubbing it hard, especially with a brush:

They made her scrub the floor.

▪ rinse to remove dirt from something using water, especially after washing it with soap:

Rinse your hair thoroughly after shampooing it.

▪ cleanse formal to clean your skin, using water or a special cream:

There are many products available for cleansing your skin.

▪ bathe /beɪð/ to clean a wound or a part of your body with water:

Bathe the cut and put a plaster on it.

▪ do the dishes ( also do the washing-up British English ) to wash plates and pans after a meal:

Who’s going to help me do the dishes?

▪ do the laundry ( also do the washing British English ) to wash clothes:

On Tuesdays, he does the washing.

clean somebody/something out phrasal verb

1 . clean something ↔ out to make the inside of a room, house etc clean or tidy:

We’d better clean out the attic this week.

2 . clean somebody out informal if something expensive cleans you out, you spend so much money on it that you now have very little left:

Our trip to Paris cleaned me out.

3 . clean somebody/something out informal to steal everything from a place, or all of someone’s possessions

clean up phrasal verb

1 . to make a place completely clean and tidy:

We spent all Saturday morning cleaning up.

clean something ↔ up

plans to clean up the beaches

clean up after

John always expects other people to clean up after him (=to make a place clean after he has used it) .

2 . to wash yourself after you have got very dirty

clean yourself up

Let me just go clean myself up.

Dad’s upstairs getting cleaned up.

3 . clean up your act informal to start behaving sensibly and responsibly:

Some companies could face heavy fines if they fail to clean up their act.

4 . informal to win a lot of money or make a lot of money in a business deal:

He cleaned up at the races yesterday.

5 . clean something ↔ up to improve moral standards in a place or organization:

It’s high time British soccer cleaned up its image.

⇨ ↑ clean-up

III. clean 3 BrE AmE adverb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cleaner , ↑ cleaning , ↑ cleanliness , ↑ clean , ↑ cleanser ; verb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanse ; adverb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanly ; adjective : ↑ clean ≠ ↑ unclean ]

used to emphasize the fact that an action or movement is complete and thorough

clean away/through/out

The thieves got clean away with $300,000 worth of equipment.

The car hit her with such force that she was lifted clean off the ground.

Sorry, I clean forgot (=completely forgot) your birthday.

IV. clean 4 BrE AmE noun [singular] British English

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ cleaner , ↑ cleaning , ↑ cleanliness , ↑ clean , ↑ cleanser ; verb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanse ; adverb : ↑ clean , ↑ cleanly ; adjective : ↑ clean ≠ ↑ unclean ]

a process in which you clean something:

The car needs a good clean.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.