Ask the Editor
Editor at Large
"Cleanliness" and "cleanness"
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Cleanliness is a much more common word than cleanness.
They look similar and are certainly related.
But cleanness is usually used to refer to the senses of clean that have to do with shape, appearance, or impression (such as "pleasingly simple" and "having edges that are straight and smooth"):
The cleanness, tidiness, and manageability of city life kept surprising her.
the bareness, cleanness, and sobriety of Doric architecture
The performance showed all the technical exactitude and cleanness of tone that earlier music demands.
Cleanliness refers to being clean or not messy or dirty:
The restaurant's kitchen is regularly inspected for cleanliness.
His habits of personal hygiene and cleanliness were learned in the army.
She was much concerned with the cleanliness of public bathrooms.