Etymology: Middle English clene, from Old English clǣne; akin to Old High German kleini delicate, dainty
Date: before 12th century
a. free from dirt or pollution <changed to clean clothes> <clean solar energy> b. free from contamination or disease <a clean wound> c. free or relatively free from radioactivity <a clean atomic explosion> 2. a. unadulterated, pure <the clean thrill of one's first flight> b. of a precious stone having no interior flaws visible c. free from growth that hinders tillage <clean farmland> 3. a. free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind <a candidate with a clean record>; also free from violations <a clean driving record> b. free from offensive treatment of sexual subjects and from the use of obscenity <a clean joke> c. observing the rules ; fair <a clean fight> 4. ceremonially or spiritually pure <and all who are clean may eat flesh — Leviticus 7:19 (Revised Standard Version)> 5. a. thorough, complete <a clean break with the past> b. deftly executed ; skillful <clean ballet technique> c. hit beyond the reach of an opponent <a clean single to center> 6. a. relatively free from error or blemish ; clear; specifically legible <clean copy> b. unencumbered <clean bill of sale> 7. a. characterized by clarity and precision ; trim <a clean prose style> <architecture with clean almost austere lines> b. even, smooth <a clean edge> <a sharp blow causing a clean break> c. free from impedances to smooth flow (as of water or air) <a clean airplane> <a ship with a clean bottom> 8. a. empty <the ship returned with a clean hold> b. free from drug addiction <has been clean for six months> c. slang having no contraband (as weapons or drugs) in one's possession 9. habitually neat • cleanness noun II. adverb Date: before 12th century 1. a. so as to clean <a new broom sweeps clean> b. in a clean manner <play the game clean> 2. all the way ; completely <the bullet went clean through his arm> III. verb Date: 15th century transitive verb 1. a. to make clean: as (1) to rid of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter (2) to rid of corruption <vowing to clean up city hall> b. remove, eradicate — usually used with up or off <clean up that mess> 2. a. strip, empty <a tree cleaned of fruit> b. to remove the entrails from <clean fish> c. to deprive of money or possessions — often used with out <they cleaned him out completely> intransitive verb to undergo or perform a process of cleaning <clean up before dinner> • cleanability noun • cleanable adjective IV. noun Date: circa 1889 an act of cleaning dirt especially from the surface of something
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.