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  1. #1
    Ju is offline Key Member
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    Clean and cleanse

    May I know the differences in usages between clean and cleanse? I searched the result as follows.

    ( "cleaning" normally involves removing dirt and blemishes from the surfaces of an object, while "cleansing" refers to removing impurities from the object as a whole.)

    Is it correct?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    J&K Tutoring Guest

    Re: Clean and cleanse

    As verbs, there isn't a significant difference between the two. These days, we don't use cleanse very much. Clean is much more common.

  3. #3
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    I think 'cleaning' would not be used in 'ethnic cleansing'.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. #4
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    "Cleanse" is also used in some rituals. For example, the pagan/Wiccan ritual of sage smudging, which involves wafting a smouldering bunch of sage around the doors, windows and rooms of a house or a flat, is believed to "cleanse" the property. The idea is, as you said in post #1, to get rid of impurities, both physical and not. Sometimes it's done as a matter of course when moving house and sometimes it's done if there is a traumatic, violent or tragic history to a property.

    It would be done in addition to "cleaning" the property, for which one needs a mop, bucket, duster, hoover etc!
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. #5
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    Quote Originally Posted by J&K Tutoring View Post
    Clean is much more common.
    I found an exception at https://books.google.com/ngrams/grap...eaning%3B%2Cc0
    I am not a teacher.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    I think 'cleaning' would not be used in 'ethnic cleansing'.
    It wouldn't, but here it is associated that the society will be purer once these people have been removed. It has similar undertones, albeit more sinister ones, to the ideas of cleansing the soul/mind, etc, or wafting burning sage.

  7. #7
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Anything to do with selling cosmetics or beauty products will use "cleanse". Any old product can clean.

  8. #8
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    Peddlers of cure-all alternative health products do the same for the same reason. A friend who is quite probably curing herself to death with these things is liable to gush about a particularly noxious concoction, "It's so cleansing!"
    I am not a teacher.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    If it's expensive, it will claim to cleanse to justify the price.

  10. #10
    bubbha is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Clean and cleanse

    I associate "cleanse" with quack remedies, marketing slogans, and xenophobic purges.

    But more generally, it seems to me that "cleanse" is more thorough, as in eliminating all the undesired elements.
    Last edited by bubbha; 23-Sep-2017 at 19:46.
    NOT A TEACHER. Translator and editor, and I hold a TESOL certificate. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

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