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[hous-klee-ning] /ˈhaʊsˌkli nɪŋ/
the act of cleaning a house, room, etc., and its furnishings, especially the act of cleaning thoroughly and completely.
the act of improving or reforming by weeding out excess or corrupt personnel or of revising methods of operation.
Origin of housecleaning
1860-65; house + cleaning


[hous-kleen] /ˈhaʊsˌklin/
verb (used with object)
to subject (a house, room, etc.) to housecleaning.
verb (used without object)
to engage in housecleaning.
1860-65; back formation from housecleaning
Related forms
housecleaner, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for house-cleaning
Historical Examples
  • If the time goes by, leaving the house-cleaning still undone, I shall keep my promise to the letter.

  • All were bare and disorderly, because, as the woman explained, house-cleaning was in progress.

    Days Off Henry Van Dyke
  • And Miss Jerusha's house-cleaning was something which required to be seen to be appreciated.

    The Actress' Daughter May Agnes Fleming
  • It is only the excess of this form of nature's house-cleaning which needs to be checked.

    Preventable Diseases Woods Hutchinson
  • There is a great deal of house-cleaning, hanging of curtains, and laying of carpets, just prior to the time.

    The Uncalled Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Today she had been house-cleaning, and had brought some treasures downstairs.

    Sisters Kathleen Norris
  • There is no place like home during spring house-cleaning—this is why home is so generally avoided during that period.

  • From the 1st to the 10th spring house-cleaning will take place.

  • The giddy kits paid no attention, as they did not know what house-cleaning meant, happy little dears!

    Jack and Jill Louisa May Alcott
  • I'm afraid of what may be uncovered there when the house-cleaning begins.

    The Landloper Holman Day
Slang definitions & phrases for house-cleaning



A reorganization of a business or government department, esp with dismissal of incompetent or dishonest employees; shake-up: Honest cops, instead of welcoming a house-cleaning, resent it (1928+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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