What Does Clear The Table Mean?

Clear the Table Meaning

Definition: To take away the dirty dishes from a table after a meal; to remove clutter from a table before eating.

Origin of Clear the Table

One of the definitions of clear is to remove objects or people from an area. This is the meaning it has in the expression. It started to become popular in the 1800s.

Examples of Clear the Table

how to clear tableIn this dialogue, two coworkers are preparing the break room for a small office party.

Deanna: Hey. I baked these cookies for our party today.

Emily: Those look delicious! I made a salad. All the other food that the other people brought is in the fridge.

Deanna: How about you clear the table, and I’ll put up the decorations?

Emily: Okay, that sounds great. Let’s get started.

In the second example, two athletes are cleaning up after a fundraiser to raise money for their baseball team.

Billy: This space looked pretty good. Nice choice of location for the fundraiser!

Angie: Thanks! The rest of the team will be here soon to help us get everything cleaned up. But we might as well get started right away, since there’s so much to do. Do you want to sweep the floor?

Billy: Actually, I’m allergic to dust. Maybe I’ll clear the tables instead.

Angie: Okay, perfect.

clearing tableThis third example shows a father telling his children to get the table ready for dinner.

Father: Kids! Dinner is almost ready.

Kids: Okay!

Father: Come in here and help your mother and me clear the table. Get all your homework off the table, and then set the table. Here are the utensils.

More Examples

The first excerpt is about a family and what they do on Christmas. The children help by cleaning off the table and washing the dirty dishes.   

  • The boys clear the table and do the dishes. They pull a blanket over their tired mother during her annual post-Christmas coma.  LA Times

The second excerpt is about Thanksgiving dinner. The author of the article assumes that most people clean the table and drink coffee before cooking.

  • On Thursday morning, before you preheat the oven, before you clear the table to make room for the gravy and the squash and the fried rice and the so on, likely you’ll make a cup of coffee. –LA Times


To clear the table means to remove everything on a table, usually in order to clean up after a meal, or to make room before a meal.