Meaning of “clean” in the English Dictionary

"clean" in British English

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cleanadjective

uk /kliːn/ us /kliːn/

clean adjective (NOT DIRTY)

A1 not dirty:

a clean white shirt
clean air/water
Make sure your hands are clean before you have your dinner.
Hospitals need to be kept spotlessly (= extremely) clean.

More examples

  • This glass has been used - please fetch me a clean one.
  • I looked in the drawer for a clean pair of socks.
  • The kitchen is spotlessly clean.
  • We want clean rivers and lakes, where you can swim without risk to your health.
  • The town council is responsible for keeping the streets clean.

clean adjective (NOT ROUGH)

having no rough edges, and smooth, straight, or equally balanced:

I've broken my leg, but the doctor says that it's a clean break, so it should heal easily.
A good clean hit from Pietersen sent the ball straight out to the boundary.
What he liked about the car was its clean lines.
I tried to make a clean cut, but the knife wasn't sharp enough.

cleanverb

uk /kliːn/ us /kliːn/

A1 [ T ] to remove dirt from something:

I'm going to clean the windows this morning.
You should always clean your teeth after meals.
Would you clean the fingermarks from/off the door?
He asked her to help him clean out the stables.

[ I usually + adv/prep ] to become clean:

This carpet doesn't clean very well.
I hope these bloodstains will clean off my shirt.

[ T ] to prepare a fish or an animal killed for food by removing the inside parts of it that are not eaten

More examples

  • When I was studying for my exams I used to clean the house as a sort of displacement activity.
  • I feel like a real drudge - I've done nothing but clean all day!
  • You'll have to get down on all fours to clean behind the toilet.
  • Did you clean the inside of the car?
  • We had an arrangement that he would clean the house and I would cook.

cleannoun [ S ]

uk /kliːn/ us /kliːn/

cleanadverb

uk /kliːn/ us /kliːn/

(Definition of “clean” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"clean" in American English

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cleanadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /klin/

clean adjective [ -er/-est only ] (NOT DIRTY)

free of dirt or other unwanted parts or pieces:

Make sure you wear a clean shirt.
Hospital rooms have to be kept clean.

Clean also means free from harmful substances, or pure:

clean air/water

clean adjective [ -er/-est only ] (HONEST)

honest or fair; not breaking rules or laws:

"Let’s make it a clean fight," said the referee.
Before his conviction for fraud, he had a clean record (= he had not been involved in crime previously).
slang They searched him, but he was clean (= he was not carrying anything illegal or not allowed).

Clean also means morally acceptable and not giving offense:

clean living
a clean joke

clean adjective [ -er/-est only ] (COMPLETE)

complete:

It’s better for both of us if we make a clean break and stop seeing each other.

clean adjective [ -er/-est only ] (NOT USED)

new and not used:

a clean sheet of paper
clean
adverb [ not gradable ] us /klin/

infml

The bullet went clean through his shoulder and out the other side.

cleanverb [ I/T ]

us /klin/

clean verb [ I/T ] (MAKE NOT DIRTY)

to remove dirt or unwanted parts or pieces from something:

[ T ] Saturday morning is our time to clean the house.
[ T ] You should clean a wound immediately to avoid infection.

(Definition of “clean” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"clean" in Business English

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cleanadjective

uk /kliːn/ us

honest and fair, or showing that you have done nothing illegal or morally wrong:

a clean record/report/license Job applicants must have a clean commercial driver's license.
He said the campaign's priorities will be "education and clean government."

ENVIRONMENT free of, or producing no harmful chemicals or substances:

clean energy/fuel/technology clean energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind power
clean air/water/soil
have clean hands informal

to have never been involved in a dishonest or illegal activity:

An audit proved that neither company had clean hands when it came to reporting profits.

cleanverb

uk /kliːn/ us
clean house informal

WORKPLACE to take action to make an organization operate more honestly and effectively:

Companies like to clean house between chief executives, so as to give the newcomer a positive base to work from.
clean out your desk/office/locker informal

WORKPLACE used to tell someone they are being removed from their job:

He was told to clean out his desk by noon.
clean up its/your act informal

to start to obey laws or accepted standards of behaviour:

There are still serious questions about whether the company has cleaned up its act since its $11 billion accounting fraud was exposed.

cleanadverb

uk /kliːn/ us
come clean

to admit the truth about a secret you have been trying to keep:

come clean about/on/over sth Corporate managers were criticized for not coming clean sooner about the company's plans to split.

(Definition of “clean” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)