adjective, neat·er, neat·est.

  1. in a pleasingly orderly and clean condition: a neat room.
  2. habitually orderly and clean in appearance or habits: a neat person.
  3. of a simple, pleasing appearance, style, design, etc.: a neat cottage.
  4. cleverly effective in character or execution: a neat scheme; a neat solution.
  5. Slang. great; wonderful; fine: What a neat car!
  6. clever, dexterous, or apt: She gave a neat characterization of the old woman.
  7. straight(def 33).
  8. Building Trades.
    1. (of cement) without sand or other aggregate.
    2. (of plaster) without any admixture except hair or fiber.
  9. net: neat profits.


  1. Informal. neatly.


  1. clean, tidy, and orderly
  2. liking or insisting on order and cleanliness; fastidious
  3. smoothly or competently done; efficienta neat job
  4. pat or slickhis excuse was suspiciously neat
  5. (of alcoholic drinks) without added water, lemonade, etc; undiluted
  6. a less common word for net 2 neat profits
  7. slang, mainly US and Canadian good; pleasing; admirable

noun plural neat

  1. archaic, or dialect a domestic bovine animal

adj.1540s, “clean, free from dirt,” from Anglo-French neit, Middle French net “clear, pure” (12c.), from Latin nitidus “well-favored, elegant, trim,” literally “gleaming,” from nitere “to shine,” from PIE root *nei- “to shine” (cf. Middle Irish niam “gleam, splendor,” niamda “shining;” Old Irish noib “holy,” niab “strength;” Welsh nwyfiant “gleam, splendor”). Meaning “inclined to be tidy” is from 1570s. Of liquor, “straight,” c.1800, from meaning “unadulterated” (of wine), which is first attested 1570s. Informal sense of “very good” first recorded 1934 in American English; variant neato is teenager slang, first recorded 1968. Related: Neatly; neatness. n.“ox, bullock, cow,” Old English neat “ox, beast, animal,” from Proto-Germanic *nautam “thing of value, possession” (cf. Old Frisian nat, Middle Dutch noot, Old High German noz, Old Norse naut), from PIE root *neud- “to make use of, enjoy.”

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