Clean Bill of Health

Also: Give Someone a Clean Bill of Health

Meaning of Idiom ‘Clean Bill of Health’

1. A clean bill of health is a report or notification that one is healthy and free of disease or other health conditions. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002,3Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

2. A report that states the absence of fault or guilt in a person. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

3. A report that states the absence of a flaw or malfunction in something, such as a computer or machine. 5Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

4. A report that an organization is operating correctly and within guidelines or regulations. 6Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

Usage

Usually, someone is ‘given a clean bill of health’ by a doctor or other health professional. To give someone a clean bill of health is to declare them healthy and fit after a thorough examination. 7Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Examples Of Use

“My doctor gave me a clean bill of health. He says I can compete in the marathon with no worries.”

“After his cancer scare, Dan was happy to be given a clean bill of health by his doctor.”

“After a thorough inspection, the restaurant was given a clean bill of health by the local health department.”

Origin

This idiom is based on the 17th practice of a ship’s crew being examined by a health offical and the ship being given a clean bill of health if no infectious disease was found. A ship had to present this ‘bill’ before landing at a port. 8Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 6. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002
3. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
4, 5, 7, 8. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.