I'm looking for a sports-related term in English, that means that one side had won without the other side having scored a single point, e.g. 1:0 or 5:0.

Is it "a clean win", or does a clean win mean anything with a large gap between the winner and the loser?


Normally a "clean win" refers more to the sportsmanship involved than the point spread: the winners played well, didn't engage in psychological tricks, didn't intentionally commit fouls, didn't argue with the referees, etc.

For beating the other opponent at zero, there are a variety of terms depending on the sport. Skunk is probably the most widely applicable across all sports, in the US. Shutout is also good in general, and predominant in baseball. Bagel (as a verb) is a term I've heard frequently in tennis when winning a set 6-0 ("He couldn't touch my serve, I bageled him in the second set").

  • +1 for the distinction of "clean" as "sportsmanlike" rather than "complete". – MT_Head Jun 26 '11 at 19:19
  • Um... What part of speech is "skunk" in this sense? Same for "shoutout" :). How do you use them? – Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 26 '11 at 19:41
  • "Shutout" is generally a noun, but "skunk" is usually a verb or adjective: "We got a shutout"; "I skunked him in the first game and then I got skunked in the second." – Hellion Jun 26 '11 at 23:07
  • 1
    Yes, but "shut him out"/"got shut out" is also common, and actually the first usage of the term before it became a noun. Shutout, by the way, is also commonly used when talking about ice hockey. "Goose-egg" is common slang for zero, and I've heard the term used as a verb similar to "skunk". – KeithS Jun 27 '11 at 15:06

A good word for what you're looking for is shutout. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

A game or contest in which one side fails to score.

It can be used in other contexts as well (such as bridge, apparently, where it holds a different meaning), but in reference to sports it is pretty unambiguous.

  • I think shutout is significantly biased towards baseball in particular, and that the usage in respect of a nil-score primarily alludes to the pitcher's performance in not giving the opposition a chance to score. I consider bridge to be a 'sporting contest' in OP's context, so Merriam-Webster notwithstanding I would not use the term outside those sports where it's already a standard. – FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 2:21

Other terms you might consider: walkover, whitewash.

Walkover does have a more specific meaning -- it is used in some sports to mean that the contest has been awarded to one competitor because the other competitor has failed to show or has otherwise forfeited the contest. But by extension, it has also just come to mean "an easy victory".

  • +1 for whitewash, which is certainly standard in the UK for many contests (such as snooker matches) where the eventual loser never managed to win a single frame (such a result is quite unusual). But it's not normally used for a snooker frame where the loser scored nothing, because that's not an exceptional result. – FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 2:14

To-nil and clean sheet are general terms indicating that one team has not scored. However, when large gaps occur there are lots of idioms; for example, a few include thrashing, pasting, drubbing, and routing.


I have heard "kept them naked" used to describe the winning team not allowing the loser to score, but I can't seem to successfully use a search engine to confirm this due to other uses of the word "naked".

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