take somebody to the cleaners

take (one) to the cleaners

1. To cheat or swindle one for a lot or all of their money. Despite its meaning, the phrase as used often does not refer to actual cheating. It was my first time playing poker at the casino, and the more experienced players definitely took me to the cleaners. The con man made a living taking people to the cleaners with his scams.
2. To soundly defeat or best one; to succeed over one by a wide margin. This young team is taking the veteran squad to the cleaners tonight.
See also: cleaner, take

take somebody to the ˈcleaners

(informal)
1 make somebody lose a lot of money, often by cheating them: He’s heavily in debt — his ex-wife took him to the cleaners at the time of their divorce.
2 defeat somebody completely: Our team got taken to the cleaners.
See also: cleaner, somebody, take
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