Pronunciation Adjective

neat (comparative neater, superlative neatest)

  1. Clean, tidy; free from dirt or impurities.
    My room is neat because I tidied it this morning.  She has very neat hair.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter II, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, OCLC 7780546 ↗; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., […], [1933], OCLC 2666860 ↗, page 0091 ↗:
      Then his sallow face brightened, for the hall had been carefully furnished, and was very clean. ¶ There was a neat hat-and-umbrella stand, and the stranger's weary feet fell soft on a good, serviceable dark-red drugget, which matched in colour the flock-paper on the walls.
  2. Free from contaminants; unadulterated, undiluted. Particularly of liquor and cocktails; see usage below.
    I like my whisky neat.
    • 1595, George Peele, The Old Wives’ Tale, The Malone Society Reprints, 1908, lines 464-465,
      A cup of neate wine of Orleance,
      That never came neer the brewers of England.
    • 1756, David Garrick, Catharine and Petruchio, London: J. & R. Tonson and S. Draper, Prologue,
      From this same Head, this Fountain-head divine,
      For different Palates springs a different Wine!
      In which no Tricks, to strengthen, or to thin ’em—
      Neat as imported—no French Brandy in em’—
    • 1932, Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime, New York: Cornerstone Library, 1965,
      At one side of the palette there is white, at the other black; and neither is ever used ‘neat.’
  3. (chemistry) Conditions with a liquid reagent or gas performed with no standard solvent or cosolvent.
    The Arbuzov reaction is performed by adding the bromide to the phosphite, neat.  The molecular beam was neat acetylene.
  4. (archaic) With all deductions or allowances made; net.
    • 1720, William Bond, The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell, London: E. Curll, Chapter 4, pp. 55-56,
      Why without telling the least title of Falshood, within the space of the last Week’s Play, the Gains of Count Cog, really amounted to no less than Twenty Thousand Pounds Sterling neat Money.
    • 1752, David Hume, Political Discourses, Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & A. Donaldson, Discourse 5, p. 81,
      Dr. Swift […] says, in his short view of the state of Ireland, that the whole cash of that kingdom amounted to 500,000 l. that out of this they remitted every year a neat million to England, and had scarce any other source to compensate themselves from […]
    • 1793, John Brand (political writer), The Alteration of the Constitution of the House of Commons, and the Inequality of the Land-Tax, Considered Jointly, London: J. Evans, Section III, p. 52,
      It may be said, that the increase of the tax is an uncompensated reduction of the neat income of the landlord […]
  5. Having a simple elegance or style; clean, trim, tidy, tasteful.
    The front room was neat and carefully arranged for the guests.
  6. Well-executed or delivered; clever, skillful, precise.
    Having the two protagonists meet in the last act was a particularly neat touch.
  7. Facile; missing complexity or details in the favor of convenience or simplicity.
    Courts should not reduce this case to a neat set of legal rules.
  8. (North American, colloquial) Good, excellent, desirable.
    Hey, neat convertible, man.
Antonyms Translations Translations
  • German: pur, unverdünnt, unvermischt
  • Spanish: derecho
Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

neat (plural neats)

  1. (informal) An artificial intelligence researcher who believes that solutions should be elegant, clear and provably correct. Compare scruffy.


  1. (archaic) A bull or cow.
    • 1570, Thomas Tusser, A Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandry Lately Maried unto a Hundreth Good Poynts of Huswifery, “Januarye,” stanza 54,
      Who both by his calfe, & his lambe wil be known,
      may well kill a neate and a shepe of his owne.
      And he that wil reare up a pyg in his house,
      hath cheaper his bacon, and sweter his souse.
    • 1596-99, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, scene i:
      Thanks, i'faith; for silence is only commendable / In a neat's tongue dried.
    • 1611, Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act II, Scene 2,
      […] he’s a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat’s leather.
    • 1663, Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part 1, Canto 2, p. 51,
      Sturdy he was, and no less able,
      Then Hercules to clense a Stable;
      As great: Drover, and as great
      A Critick too, in Hog or Neat,
    • 1756, Thomas Amory (author), The Life of John Buncle, Esq., London: J. Noon, Chapter 28, p. 165,
      […] I sat down by this water in the shade to dine, on a neat’s tongue I had got from good Mrs. Price […]
  2. (archaic) Cattle collectively.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book Six, Canto 9, p. 467,
      From thence into the open fields he fled,
      Whereas the Heardes were keeping of their neat
      And shepheards singing to their flockes, that fed,
    • 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act I, Scene 2,
      And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf
      Are all call’d neat.
    • 1648, Robert Herrick (poet), Hesperides, "To his Muse":
      Thou on a Hillock thou may sing
      Unto a handsome Shepardling
      Or to a Girlie (that keeps the Neat)
      With breath more sweat than Violet.
Related terms Translations

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