1. free from unpleasantness, danger, or illegality.
   The opposite in many uses of dirty. It may denote that a sexual partner has no venereal disease, that the enemy is not in a location, that someone is not carrying drugs or a handgun, etc.:
    I was a lucky devil to drop on such a lovely clean skirt. (F. Richards, 1936 — the woman was free of disease)
    ... this village is clean and this village is all Charlie. (Theroux, 1975, writing of Vietnam)
    'What's the point if he's clean?' 'If he's carrying something.' (Kyle, 1988 — someone was suspected of having a pistol)
   A clean atom bomb has less radioactive fallout than a dirty one:
    The language of the mad... 'Clean atom bombs'. (M. West, 1979)
   To have clean hands is not to have accepted a bribe or acted dishonestly.
   2. to kill or evict indigenous inhabitants of a different race or religion to your own
   The practice is age-old but the language more recent:
    The displacement of the Arab majority had been achieved only by a process which Yigal Allon, the commander of the Jewish military forces in Galilee (and later Deputy Prime Minister of Israel), himself described as a 'cleansing'. 'We saw a need to clean the Inner Galilee', he wrote in his memoirs, 'and to create a Jewish territorial succession in the entire region of Upper Galilee. We therefore looked for means to cause tens of thousands of sulky Arabs who remained in Galilee to flee... Wide areas were cleaned.' (Dalrymple, 1997)
   The world paid more attention to the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Croatia, perhaps because there were more television channels than half a century earlier, and no networks controlled by Serbian or Croat sympathizers.

How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms. . 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Clean — (kl[=e]n), a. [Compar. {Cleaner} (kl[=e]n [ e]r); superl. {Cleanest}.] [OE. clene, AS. cl[=ae]ne; akin to OHG. chleini pure, neat, graceful, small, G. klein small, and perh. to W. glan clean, pure, bright; all perh. from a primitive, meaning… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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