clean as a whistle

Idioms & Phrases

clean as a whistle

Completely, entirely, thoroughly, as in He chopped off the branch, clean as a whistle. The allusion in this simile is unclear. It may have been a replacement for the 18th-century clear as a whistle, which alluded to the pure, clean sound of a whistle (it has few overtones). However, it was adopted to describe something thoroughly done. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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