What is their difference?

Please provide an example (or two if the use as verb or adjective differentiates their meanings).

  • 2
    What is their similarity? If you're just picking two random words and asking how they're different, it's not a good question. (How would you answer “'Apples' v/s 'philosophy': What is their difference?”) If you do have examples of similarity/ambiguity that cannot be resolved with a dictionary, please make that clear. Aug 31, 2010 at 22:52
  • 4
    This question is very broad in its current form. Each of these words easily has a dozen different meanings as an adjective, and almost just as many as a verb. It's very hard to give a comprehensive answer. Can you provide any context? That would greatly improve the question and get you more (and more accurate) answers.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 31, 2010 at 22:54
  • 11
    There is at least a meaning for clean and clear that would confuse who doesn't speak English as first language. The fact English is not the native language for myle should be taken in consideration; I am sure a native speaker perfectly knows when to use clean or clear. The difference between clear glass, and clean glass is not the difference existing between apple and philosophy.
    – apaderno
    Sep 1, 2010 at 12:39
  • 8
    This question is perfect for every non-native English speaker. It is the first result appeared for "clean vs clear" search.
    – sanyassh
    Feb 2, 2020 at 9:06
  • 1
    Portuguese is my first language and I can testify that the difference between the words is not obvious for me.
    – nfgf
    Aug 12, 2022 at 15:19

5 Answers 5


Clean, as adjective, means:

  • Free from dirt, marks, or stain (the room was spotlessly clean)
  • Morally uncontaminated; pure; innocent (clean living)
  • Free from irregularities; having a smooth edge or surface (a clean fracture of the leg)

Clear, as adjective, means:

  • Easy to perceive, understand, or interpret (the voice on the telephone was clear and strong)
  • Free of anything that marks or darkens something (the clear glass of the French windows; the day was fine and clear; I looked into her clear gray eyes)
  • Free of any obstructions or unwanted objects (with a clear road ahead, he shifted into high gear)

You could be confused between the first meaning clean and the second meaning of clear. A clean glass is a glass that is not dirty; a clear glass is a glass that doesn't contain any substances that make it opaque.


They have subtile differences. "Clear the table", means to take away plates or papers, while "clean the table" means to wipe it. "Cleaning up" may include both clearing and cleaning in the general sense.


clean an object = remove anything that makes it dirty

clear an object = remove anything that hinders it from being obvious

  • 1
    Ok. The problem is though that dirt is what makes important things more difficult to see. Should I use clear on clean the command line askubuntu.com/questions/338290?
    – Val
    Aug 28, 2013 at 9:30

I actually got my students to answer the same question by asking them to find the difference between 'clean the room' vs 'clear the room'. To my surprise a variety of answers were put forward of which a large number were unrelated. Very few turned the right answer in though. To 'clean the room' means to vaccum, dust, and wipe the trash and dirt from the room stuff. However, to 'clear the room' means to tidy things up by puting things on their places. It may be used as an order to empty and remove any stuff from the room.


Clear means to put something in order so that it becomes obvious, structured and understandable.[ Both physical and abstract ] Cleans means to remove unwanted material so that the object becomes neat and tidy.

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