"cleaned his clock" Antedating to 1946

Douglas Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Feb 11 21:08:15 UTC 2006

>From N'archive:


_Reno Evening Gazette_, 18 Sep. 1942: p. 12: <<"Who knows?" Lobert said
yesterday, eager for the Brooklyn game. "Maybe we'll clean their


_Cook County Herald_, 6 May 1930: p. 1:

[Tomatoes versus citrus fruits]

<<But the science boys now say that the vitamines in the tomato can clean
the clock of any of the others so highly recommended and not half tried.>>


_Trenton Evening Times_, 28 July 1908: p. 11:

<<It took the Thistles just one inning to clean the clocks of the Times


And from ProQuest: a different usage, but MAYBE ancestral ("clean the
clock" = "halt abruptly" or so):


_The Bookman_ 69(5), July 1929: p. 524:

Grover Jones, "Railroad Lingo":

<<Should the engineer "wipe the gauge" or "clean the clock", it means that
he has brought the train to a sudden stop by setting the air brakes.>>


Bunch of other railroad lingo in this last piece.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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