have a clean slate(redirected from they have had a clean slate)
have a clean slate
To have or start again with a fresh beginning, especially one unencumbered by mistakes, regrets, or obligations from the past. After that fiasco in Texas, I'm moving to Oregon so I can have a clean slate. Criminals who have served their time in jail are supposed to have a clean slate when they are released, but it is simply not the case. Let's get all this financial stuff finished before the end of December so that we can have a clean slate for the start of the year.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
clean slate, have a/start with a
A fresh chance after past debts or offenses have been canceled or forgiven. A nineteenth-century term, it comes from the schoolroom and tavern, where slate blackboards and chalk were used for exercises and totting up bills (see also chalk it up to). Mistakes and debts so recorded could literally be erased. It may have been a translation of the earlier Latin tabula rasa (“scraped tablet”), on which anything could be inscribed. By the second half of the nineteenth century the term was transferred to mean making any kind of fresh start. Another version of the term is to wipe the slate clean (so as to obtain a clean slate). As Rudyard Kipling wrote about The Absent-Minded Beggar (1900), “He’s out on active service, wiping something off a slate.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer