poor but clean

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poor but clean

Having little money or being very inexpensive but still respectable, clean, and tidy in appearance. My mother drilled into us from a very young age that, even if we had no money, it was of the utmost importance to be poor but clean. Their modest home had very little in the way of furnishings, but what was there was presented very well. It was, to put it plainly, poor but clean. The boy stood in front of the president with his head held high, his clothes poor but clean, with as much dignity as any foreign dignitary.
See also: but, clean, poor

poor but clean

Cliché having little money but clean and of good habits, nonetheless. (Either extremely condescending or jocular. Some people would consider it offensive.) My salary isn't very high, and I only have one old car. Anyway, I'm poor but clean. When Fred uttered the phrase "poor but clean" in reference to some of the people working in the yard, Ellen went into a rage.
See also: but, clean, poor