What Does Clean Your Clock Mean?

Clean Your Clock Meaning

Definition: To defeat someone.

Generally, this phrase is used to describe someone who has won in a competition. If someone wins a tennis match without a single point scored against him, it would be said that he cleaned his opponent’s clock.

Sometimes, people use this to describe physically attacking and beating someone.

Origin of Clean Your Clock

This expression originated during the 1900s. It is possibly related to the idea that a clock has a face, and cleaning someone’s clock often implies punching someone in the face.

The word clean also had a slang definition meaning to defeat or beat since the 1800s.

Examples of Clean Your Clock

define clean his clockIn the example below, two friends are playing a game of strategy with each other.

Ted: Ha! I’ve won! Admit defeat!

Rufio: You haven’t won yet. See! Look at this.

Ted: Oh no, I didn’t realize you could do that.

Rufio: Well, I can, and now I’m going to clean your clock!

Ted: You can try, but I still have a few ideas on how to win.

clean your clock originThis dialogue shows a woman talking with her friend about someone who threatened to attack her.

Zayna: Hey! I had the wildest day today. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Ben: Sure I would. What happened?

Zayna: Well, I found this really good sale at my favorite clothing store. You know the one? It’s always really expensive, but today they had this amazing sale. So the whole place was super crowded.

Ben: So what happened there?

Zayna: I found this beautiful shirt, and it was the last one in my size. Anyway, this other woman saw it just a couple seconds after I did. So she grabbed it and tried to take it away from me!

Ben: What did you do?

Zayna: I pulled it away from her and ran towards the registers, so I could buy it. The woman started to chase me and yelled at me, “I’ll clean your clock!” I was so scared. I really thought she was going to attack me.

Ben: What stopped her?

Zayna: A security guard.

More Examples

The excerpt below talks about a woman who stood up to a man in powerful position.

  • Whatever happens, I’m gratified that my daughters and millions of other young people could watch a tough, smart, prepared and not-young professional woman take on a bombastic, powerful man — and clean his clock when the stakes couldn’t have been higher. –Washington Post

This excerpt is from a review of a play.

  • These lost souls initially bond while playing gin, a game Fonsia professes not to know until Weller teaches her.  She then proceeds to clean his clock in hand after hand, triggering increasingly violent fits of rage from the hot-tempered Weller. –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Summary

The phrase to clean someone’s clock means to threaten someone physically or to defeat a person completely.