come clean


adjective, cleaner, cleanest.
free from dirt; unsoiled; unstained: She bathed and put on a clean dress.
free from foreign or extraneous matter: clean sand.
free from pollution; unadulterated; pure: clean air; clean water.
habitually free of dirt: Cats are considered clean animals.
characterized by a fresh, wholesome quality: the clean smell of pine.
free from all writing or marking: a clean sheet of paper.
having few or no corrections; easily readable: The publisher demanded clean proofs from the printer.
free from roughness or irregularity: He made a clean cut with a razor.
not ornate; gracefully spare; forceful and simple; trim; streamlined: a clean literary style; the clean lines of a ship.
complete; unqualified: a clean break with tradition.
morally pure; innocent; upright; honorable: to lead a clean life.
showing good sportsmanship; fair: a clean fighter.
inoffensive in language or content; without obscenity.
(of a document, record, etc.) bearing no marks of discreditable or unlawful conduct; listing no offenses: a clean driver's license.
innocent of any crime.
not having a criminal record.
carrying or containing no evidence of unlawful activity or intent, as controlled substances, unlicensed weapons, or contraband: The agents searched the car for drugs, but it was clean.
not using narcotics.
(of a nuclear weapon) producing little or no radioactive fallout.
not radioactive.
(of a document or financial instrument) free from qualifications or restrictions: a clean bill of lading.
free from defects or flaws: a clean diamond.
free from encumbrances or obstructions.
neatly or evenly made or proportioned; shapely; trim: a clean profile.
made without any unanticipated difficulty or interference: The bank robbers made a clean getaway.
Chiefly Biblical. having no physical or moral blemish or carrying no taboo so as to make impure according to the laws, especially the dietary or ceremonial laws: a clean animal; clean persons.
dexterously performed; adroit: a clean serve in tennis.
(of a jump over an obstacle) made without touching the obstacle.
Slang. having no direct associations, business interests, etc., that could prejudice one's official acts or decisions: The new governor is clean because he's sold his construction business and doesn't owe political favors to anyone.
Slang. without money or funds.
(of wine) having a taste that is unusually refreshing and smooth.
Nautical. (of an anchorage, harbor, etc.) free of obstructions or hazards (opposed to foul ).
(of the legs of a horse) free from injury or blemish, as capped hocks, splints, or scars.
Foreign Exchange. (of currency floats) not influenced by exchange-rate manipulation (opposed to dirty ).
adverb, cleaner, cleanest.
in a clean manner; cleanly: Nobody wants to box with him because he doesn't fight clean.
so as to be clean: This shirt will never wash clean.
Informal. wholly; completely; quite: The sharp carving knife sliced clean through the roast. In a year, he had gone clean through his inheritance.
verb (used with object)
to make clean: Clean those dirty shoes.
to remove or consume the contents of; empty; clear: She sat down to dinner ravenous and within five minutes had cleaned her plate.
to dry-clean.
to remove the entrails and other inedible parts from (poultry, fish, etc.); dress.
Slang. to take away or win all or almost all the money or possessions of (often followed by out ): The cards were marked and I got cleaned.
Metallurgy. to remove the seams from (a casting) by filing or grinding.
Philately. to delete intentionally the cancellation from (a postage or revenue stamp).
verb (used without object)
to perform or undergo a process of cleaning: This kind of fabric cleans easily. Detergents clean better than most soaps.
to get rid of dirt, soil, etc. (often followed by up ): to spend the morning cleaning.
Verb phrases
clean out,
to empty in order to straighten or clean.
to use up; exhaust: He had cleaned out his savings.
Informal. to drive out by force.
to empty or rid (a place) of occupants, contents, etc.: Eager customers cleaned out the store on the first day of the sale. The thief cleaned out the safe.
Slang. to cause to lose all or almost all one's money or possessions.
clean up,
to wash or tidy up.
to rid of undesirable persons or features: They cleaned up the local bars.
to put an end to; finish: to clean up yesterday's chores.
Informal. to make a large profit: They cleaned up in the stock market.
clean full, Nautical.
(of a sail or sails) filled with wind; rap full.
(of a sailing vessel) with all sails full of wind; rap full.
clean house, to wipe out corruption, inefficiency, etc., as in an organization: It's time for the city government to clean house.
clean up one's act. act ( def 27 ).
come clean, Slang. to tell the truth, especially to admit one's guilt.

before 900; Middle English clene, Old English clǣne pure, clear, cognate with Old High German kleini (German klein small)

cleanness, noun
half-cleaned, adjective
overclean, adjective
overcleanly, adverb
overcleanness, noun
preclean, verb (used with object)
reclean, verb (used with object)
superclean, adjective
uncleaned, adjective

1. clean, cleanse (see synonym study at the current entry) ; 2. cleanliness, cleanness.

1. neat, immaculate. Clean, clear, pure refer to freedom from soiling, flaw, stain, or mixture. Clean refers especially to freedom from soiling: a clean shirt. Clear refers particularly to freedom from flaw or blemish: a clear pane of glass. Pure refers especially to freedom from mixture or stain: a pure metal; not diluted but pure and full strength. 7. legible. 11. unsullied, chaste, virtuous. 19. unblemished, flawless. 34. entirely, thoroughly. 35. scour, scrub, sweep, brush, wipe, mop, dust, wash, rinse, lave, deterge, purify, clear; decontaminate. Clean, cleanse refer to removing dirt or impurities. To clean is the general word with no implication of method or means: to clean windows, a kitchen, streets. Cleanse is especially used of thorough cleaning by chemical or other technical process; figuratively it applies to moral or spiritual purification: to cleanse parts of machinery; to cleanse one's soul of guilt.

1. dirty. 17. contaminated, radioactive. 35. soil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
clean (kliːn)
1.  without dirt or other impurities; unsoiled
2.  without anything in it or on it: a clean page
3.  recently washed; fresh
4.  without extraneous or foreign materials
5.  without defect, difficulties, or problems: a clean test flight
6.  a.  (of a nuclear weapon) producing little or no radioactive fallout or contamination
 b.  Compare dirty uncontaminated
7.  (of a wound, etc) having no pus or other sign of infection
8.  pure; morally sound
9.  without objectionable language or obscenity: a clean joke
10.  (of printer's proofs, etc) relatively free from errors; easily readable: clean copy
11.  thorough or complete: a clean break
12.  dexterous or adroit: a clean throw
13.  sport played fairly and without fouls
14.  simple in design: a ship's clean lines
15.  aeronautics causing little turbulence; streamlined
16.  (of an aircraft) having no projections, such as rockets, flaps, etc, into the airstream
17.  honourable or respectable
18.  habitually neat
19.  (esp of a driving licence) showing or having no record of offences
20.  slang
 a.  innocent; not guilty
 b.  not carrying illegal drugs, weapons, etc
21.  of a vessel nautical
 a.  having its bottom clean
 b.  having a satisfactory bill of health
22.  Old Testament
 a.  (of persons) free from ceremonial defilement
 b.  (of animals, birds, and fish) lawful to eat
23.  New Testament morally and spiritually pure
24.  clean sweep See sweep
25.  to make or become free of dirt, filth, etc: the stove cleans easily
26.  (tr) to remove in making clean: to clean marks off the wall
27.  (tr) to prepare (fish, poultry, etc) for cooking: to clean a chicken
28.  in a clean way; cleanly
29.  not standard (intensifier): clean forgotten; clean dead
30.  cricket clean bowled bowled by a ball that breaks the wicket without hitting the batsman or his bat
31.  informal come clean to make a revelation or confession
32.  the act or an instance of cleaning: he gave his shoes a clean
[Old English clǣne; related to Old Frisian klēne small, neat, Old High German kleini]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. clæne "clean, pure," from W.Gmc. *klainoz "clear, pure," from PIE base *gel- "to gleam" (cf. Gk. glene "eyeball," O.Ir. gel "bright"). As an adj., replaced in higher senses by clear, pure, but as a verb (c.1450) it has largely usurped what once belonged to
cleanse. The adj. clean in the sense of "innocent" is from c.1300; that of "not lewd" is from 1867; that of "free of drug addiction" is 1950s. To take (someone) to the cleaners "get all of (someone's) money" is from 1932
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Clean definition

The various forms of uncleanness according to the Mosaic law are enumerated in Lev. 11-15; Num. 19. The division of animals into clean and unclean was probably founded on the practice of sacrifice. It existed before the Flood (Gen. 7:2). The regulations regarding such animals are recorded in Lev. 11 and Deut. 14:1-21. The Hebrews were prohibited from using as food certain animal substances, such as (1) blood; (2) the fat covering the intestines, termed the caul; (3) the fat on the intestines, called the mesentery; (4) the fat of the kidneys; and (5) the fat tail of certain sheep (Ex. 29:13, 22; Lev. 3:4-9; 9:19; 17:10; 19:26). The chief design of these regulations seems to have been to establish a system of regimen which would distinguish the Jews from all other nations. Regarding the design and the abolition of these regulations the reader will find all the details in Lev. 20:24-26; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10; Heb. 9:9-14.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

come clean

Confess everything, as in If you come clean about what happened I will promise to keep it to myself. [Slang; early 1900s]

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