American English

Definition of clean adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (cleaner, cleanest)
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    not dirty
  1. 1not dirty Are your hands clean? to wipe something clean The hotel was spotlessly (= extremely)clean. Keep your room neat and clean. I can't find a clean shirt (= one I haven't worn since it was washed).
  2. 2having a clean appearance and clean surroundings Cats are very clean animals.
  3. not harmful
  4. 3free from harmful or unpleasant substances clean drinking water clean air We all want a cleaner environment, but who is going to pay for it? cleaner cars (= not producing so many harmful substances) Electric buses are a clean, environmentally friendly way to travel.
  5. paper
  6. 4[usually before noun] with nothing written on it a clean sheet of paper
  7. smooth/simple
  8. 5having a smooth edge, surface, or shape; simple and regular A sharp knife makes a clean cut. a modern design with clean lines
  9. not illegal
  10. 6not showing or having any record of doing something that is against the law a clean driver's license a clean police record
  11. 7(informal) not owning or carrying anything illegal such as drugs or weapons The police searched her, but she was clean.
  12. fair
  13. 8played or done in a fair way and within the rules It was a tough but clean game.
  14. not offensive
  15. 9not offensive or referring to sex; not doing anything that is considered immoral or bad The movie was good, clean fun for the whole family. Keep the jokes clean, please! The sport has a very clean image.
  16. accurate
  17. 10done in a skillful and accurate way The plane made a clean takeoff.
  18. taste/smell
  19. 11tasting, smelling, or looking pleasant and fresh The wine has a clean taste and a lovely golden color. compare unclean
  20. Idioms
    as clean as a whistle (informal)
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    very clean
    a clean bill of health
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    a report that says someone is healthy or that something is in good condition Doctors gave him a clean bill of health after a series of tests and examinations. The building was given a clean bill of health by the surveyor.
      a clean break
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    1. 1a complete separation from a person, an organization, a way of life, etc. She wanted to make a clean break with the past.
    2. 2a break in a bone in one place
    a clean slate
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    a record of your work or behavior that does not show any mistakes or bad things that you have done No government operates with a completely clean slate.
    keep your nose clean (informal)
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    to avoid doing anything wrong or illegal Since leaving prison, he's managed to keep his nose clean.
      make a clean sweep (of something)
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    1. 1to win all the prizes or parts of a game or competition; to win an election completely China made a clean sweep of the medals in the gymnastics events. The opinion poll suggests a clean sweep for the Democrats.
    2. 2to remove all the people or things from an organization that are thought to be unnecessary or need changing The new manager made a clean sweep of the department.
    Mr. Clean (informal)
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    a man, especially a politician, who is considered to be very honest and good The scandal destroyed his image as Mr. Clean.
    wipe the slate clean
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    to agree to forget about past mistakes or arguments and start again with a relationship
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: clean