take to the cleaners, to

take someone to the cleaners

 
1. Sl. to take a lot of someone's money; to swindle someone. The lawyers took the insurance company to the cleaners, but I still didn't get enough to pay for my losses. The con artists took the old man to the cleaners.
2. Sl. to defeat or best someone. We took the other team to the cleaners. Look at the height they've got! They'll take us to the cleaners!
See also: cleaner, take
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

take to the cleaners

1. Take or cheat one out of all of one's money or possessions, as in Her divorce lawyer took him to the cleaners, or That broker has taken a number of clients to the cleaners. [Slang; early 1900s]
2. Drub, beat up, as in He didn't just push you-he took you to the cleaners. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: cleaner, take
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

take to the cleaners

Slang
To take all the money or possessions of, especially by outsmarting or swindling.
See also: cleaner, take
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

take to the cleaners, to

To dupe or defraud; to wipe out financially. This term may have been derived from the older to be cleaned out, which dates from the early nineteenth century and has precisely the same meaning. The current cliché is American slang dating from the mid-twentieth century, when commercial dry-cleaning establishments became commonplace, but it probably originated, like the older term, among gamblers. H. MacLennan used it in Precipice (1949): “He had taken Carl to the cleaners this time.”
See also: take
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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