Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English clenly, clenliche, clanly, from Old English clǣnlīċ (cleanly, pure, excellent), equivalent to clean +‎ -ly.

Alternative formsEdit


  • IPA(key): /ˈklɛnli/
    • (file)


cleanly (comparative cleanlier or more cleanly, superlative cleanliest or most cleanly)

  1. Being habitually clean, practising good hygiene.
    • 1653, Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler:
      I'll now lead you to an honest ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall.
    • 1765, Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller, or, A Prospect of Society
      While his lov'd partner boastful of her hoard,
      Displays the cleanly platter on the board;
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, “X”, in The Lost World:
      There were some flat slabs of rock in the centre, with an excellent well close by, and there we sat in cleanly comfort while we made our first plans for the invasion of this new country.
  2. (obsolete) Cleansing; fitted to remove moisture; dirt, etc.
    • 1718, Mat[thew] Prior, “Alma: Or, The Progress of the Mind”, in Poems on Several Occasions, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], and John Barber [], OCLC 5634253:
      With cleanly powder dry their hair.
  3. (obsolete) Adroit; dexterous; artful.

Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English clenly, clenli, clenliche, from Old English clǣnlīċe (cleanly), equivalent to clean +‎ -ly.



cleanly (comparative cleanlier or more cleanly, superlative cleanliest or most cleanly)

  1. In a clean way, neatly.
  2. Not causing a mess or unnecessary damage.
    We agreed to break off our relationship cleanly.
    Fortunately, the bullet passed cleanly through your shoulder.
  3. Innocently; without stain.
  4. Adroitly; dexterously
    • c. 1616, Thomas Middleton, The Witch
      The boy will do well certain : give him grace To have a quick hand and convey things cleanly