CLEAN-OUT as a substantive?

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We are adding a new feature to our product, it was given the name "Items clean-out"

However, I have found the "clean out" expression only as a verb in various English sources.

Can the hyphen be used to legitimize the expression as a noun?

I know that there exist legitimate substantives as synonyms to this option, such as "clear-out" or "clean-up".

However, I am curious (and I admit that it would also be much easier for our company not to change the expression in promotional materials and other documentation already printed) if such use of the "new form" is possible (the problem is that I happened to find clean-out as a substantive technical term meaning "a hole in a special box used for cleaning" which is confusing and might invoke amused reactions and thus sound silly and ridiculous).

As the expressions labels one of the new key features in the product, I find it desirable that the term is correct.

The meaning of it should be "removing old items to keep the email box clean and free disk space for newer items" (this is also why I find the "clear-out" term the most precise and suitable for this feature).

Thank you.
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Clean out" also often means "to completely empty", although it can mean "tidy up". For example:

    "My son had some friends over. Those boys can eat! They cleaned out my cupboards." This means that they ate everything in the cupboards. (It's an exaggeration.)

    "Robbers hit my friend's store last night. The store was cleaned out." (Everything was stolen from the store.)

    "Before you go to town you need to clean out the horse stalls." (All the... detritus is removed from the floor of the stalls.)
     
    "Clean out" also often means "to completely empty", although it can mean "tidy up". For example:

    "My son had some friends over. Those boys can eat! They cleaned out my cupboards." This means that they ate everything in the cupboards. (It's an exaggeration.)

    "Robbers hit my friend's store last night. The store was cleaned out." (Everything was stolen from the store.)

    "Before you go to town you need to clean out the horse stalls." (All the... detritus is removed from the floor of the stalls.)
    Okay, that's actually what I stated above. The phrase works just swell in the role of a verb, meaning exactly what I need.

    However, the trouble to target here is that I need to know whether this pattern might as well work as a noun and convey the desired meaning and the same time.
     
    Okay, that's actually what I stated above. The phrase works just swell in the role of a verb, meaning exactly what I need.

    However, the trouble to target here is that I need to know whether this pattern might as well work as a noun and convey the desired meaning and the same time.
    ...at the same time (sorry for the typo)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    When you say:

    The meaning of it should be "removing old items to keep the email box clean and free disk space for newer items" (this is also why I find the "clear-out" term the most precise and suitable for this feature).


    ... do you mean that all messages are deleted so that the mailbox is empty, or only old items are deleted and some newer messages still exist after the clean-up is done?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Clean out" is used as a noun in the UK. Sometimes it is two words, sometimes it is hyphenated and occasionally it is a single word ("cleanout").

    "The council plans to give a ten-mile stretch of the River Trent a clean-out."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I find "clean-up" more appropriate for your intended meaning that "clean-out". As has been stated previously, "clean-out" implies totally removing something (as does "clear-out"). "Clean-up" seems the better choice if you are not removing everything.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I find "clean-up" more appropriate for your intended meaning that "clean-out". As has been stated previously, "clean-out" implies totally removing something (as does "clear-out"). "Clean-up" seems the better choice if you are not removing everything.

    I agree. That's why I asked whether everything is removed or just part. If you are not removing everything "clean-out" seems like a poor choice to me.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    We are adding a new feature to our product, it was given the name "Items clean-out"

    However, I have found the "clean out" expression only as a verb in various English sources.

    Can the hyphen be used to legitimize the expression as a noun?
    Getting back to your original question... :)

    I would not say "Items" but "Item", even if there were multiple items, and "cleanout" without the hyphen. Can it be a noun? Yes, definitely.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=cleanout++-%22clean+out%22
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    To me, clean-out works as a noun, if the verb form carries your intended meaning.

    However, I have a slight problem with items as the modifier. With clean-out, I expect the modifier to tell us what is being cleaned, rather than the objects (items) that are being removed. You see this in sound shift's example, post #8:
    "The council plans to give a ten-mile stretch of the River Trent a clean-out."
    Here, it is the river that is the object of the 'clean-out', not whatever it is that will be removed from the river.

    Something like "[file/ disc/ etc.] clean-out" may sound more idiomatic.

    (Oops, sound shift deleted the post while I was composing this one, but you will notice the same pattern in the examples JamesM has linked to.)
     
    Thanks go to all of you, guys. This really IS helpful!

    Just to make it clear and head for a conclusion:

    The word should convey the meaning of "removing older items while keeping newer ones in a store".
    Objects here to be sorted out should be individual items.
    These items are located in a store/an email account.

    To sum it up:
    "Item clean-up" seems the best choice then, doesn't it?

    Sorry for being so dull, but I really need to reassure on this before I start fighting for the change using suggested arguments, and thank you in one breath.
     

    cyco

    Member
    English (US)
    If I saw "clean-out" it would look a little strange, but I would understand what it means. "Clean-up" does sound better; hopefully you won't get in too much trouble with the boss :)

    I also agree with Cagey that "clean-out" (or whatever you use) should modify the area being cleaned, not what is being removed from it. So, "Inbox Clean-Up", maybe?
     
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