Definition of tidy in English:



  • 1Arranged neatly and in order.

    ‘his scrupulously tidy apartment’
    figurative ‘the lives they lead don't fit into tidy patterns’
    • ‘They were packed with tidy rows of disks, neatly labeled and organized alphabetically.’
    • ‘A careful and conscientious farmer, he kept his farmyard, fences and land in good repair, and always had a neat and tidy garden.’
    • ‘Lace curtains neatly surround the latticed windows while pretty flowers border the tidy garden which has obviously been lovingly kept.’
    • ‘Although I'm not hugely obsessive about it, it has to at least appear to be tidy and clean.’
    • ‘She prided her self in loving everything neat, tidy and organised.’
    • ‘I was very particular about these things - I had to make everything perfectly tidy and orderly, or I would go crazy.’
    • ‘The judges were very impressed with the area and how tidy and neat it is.’
    • ‘His wife, Olfah, is arranging furniture that has just arrived at their tidy two-bedroom flat.’
    • ‘They can barely wait to get rid of the place so they can return to a tidy apartment in Paris with a bistro next door.’
    • ‘Wellingborough is tidy, neat and comfortable rather than prosperous.’
    • ‘By the day of the party, Rowena and Sammy were entirely unpacked, the apartment was tidy, and the food preparations were on schedule.’
    • ‘The mess the workmen had created in her normally tidy and well-organised house had driven her out and down to the local shops in an attempt to get away from them.’
    • ‘This will be an integral part of the tidy towns five year plan.’
    • ‘The hippie girls, Kelly and Mollie, finally moved off the island and out of the trailer, and now have a tidy apartment up in the 80s.’
    • ‘It would only take a couple of minutes to keep outside business premises tidy.’
    • ‘The village was neat, with tidy little houses, arranged along three roads leading out from this castle.’
    • ‘Robert Cecil was Secretary of State as well as Leader of the House of Commons, and made earnest efforts to regulate the private lives of citizens into a neat and tidy pattern.’
    • ‘Salford has efficient binmen and clean, tidy town centres, roads and parks, says an independent watchdog.’
    • ‘If you give an example of keeping things well organised and tidy, the chances are your adolescent will eventually do the same.’
    • ‘When I sit down on empty days like this and wonder what to do with myself I think mostly of tidy roses and neatly mown lawns.’
    neat, neat and tidy, as neat as a new pin, orderly, well ordered, in order, in good order, well kept, in apple-pie order, immaculate, spick and span, uncluttered, organized, well organized, well arranged, sorted out, straight, straightened out, trim, spruce
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    1. 1.1Inclined to keep things or one's appearance neat and in order.
      ‘she was a tidy little girl’
      • ‘If you wore slacks you were almost certainly a member of the golf club, you were neat and tidy and smart, you were destined for a middling job, an early marriage and early middle age.’
      • ‘And then he decided the reason we aren't living together is because you're tidy and I'm not.’
      • ‘Irving, thought by his family at home in Vermont to be obsessively tidy, is a control freak.’
      • ‘She'd never been a very tidy person; thus the slightly mess apartment.’
      • ‘He is a small, tidy man with a neat beard and an orange Yves Saint Laurent top.’
      • ‘It looks like the home of a particularly tidy student.’
      • ‘She's fabulously sweet to us, and thinks we're very tidy and considerate.’
      • ‘Box up and stow away any overspill of ornaments and act like an obsessively tidy person, neatly fold and put away until you've exchanged contracts.’
      • ‘Yet this girl, with a meticulously tidy mother and accountant father, was a walking bomb site who couldn't add up.’
      • ‘Lydie, a more calm and tidy girl by nature, had graduated at the top of her class back in Mount Lennon.’
      • ‘After the third knock a charming and tidy gentleman appeared at the front door.’
      • ‘I'm sure this doesn't apply to you, because anybody who reads this is probably a considerate and reasonably tidy person.’
      smart, spruce, dapper, trim, neat, well groomed, well turned out
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    2. 1.2Neat and controlled.
      ‘he wrote down her replies in a small, tidy hand’
      • ‘All the fans want, really, is a tidy procedure that neatly resolves the loose ends.’
      • ‘I'm just looking for a neat and tidy finish to the season before preparing for the new one.’
      • ‘York bowled a tidy and straight line but NYCA never kept up with the required run rate despite Conway batting right through for an unbeaten 68.’
      • ‘He did not threaten aerially but was prepared to tackle and his distribution was generally tidy.’
      • ‘Patterson and New Zealand pro Matt Horne seized control in the face of a tidy but far from fierce attack.’
      • ‘The open-ended nature of the story is in keeping with the character who has been presented to us but is a little on the frustrating side for anyone seeking tidy endings.’
      • ‘Wilson runs a neat and tidy show, with just the occasional seasoning of edge to it.’
      • ‘I never thought of him being meticulous, but you're probably right; his handwriting was very neat and very tidy.’
      • ‘The results move straight into a very tidy profit and loss account, balance sheet and cash flow statement, followed by cleanly presented notes.’
      • ‘He has a tidy action and excellent control over his line and length.’
      • ‘This time, he was more confident and more controlled, but still managed some very spectacular and tidy dancing.’
      • ‘My neat, tidy organised life is structured to avoid self-inflicted nasty surprises.’
      • ‘You'll see neat and tidy chapters, broken into subsets on theory, mechanics, and practice.’
      • ‘Of course, this process is not as neat and tidy as I have made it appear.’
      • ‘The words inside were written in black ink, in very neat and tidy handwriting.’
      • ‘In a rather neat and tidy package, the movie playfully portrays the highs and lows of a complicated dating process.’
      • ‘She turned the paper so that the side with Christy's tidy writing faced outward.’
      • ‘Bassett keeps these feelings just below the surface, letting the viewer watch as she struggles to maintain her tidy life in control.’
  • 2informal [attributive] (of an amount, especially of money) considerable.

    ‘the book will bring in a tidy sum’
    • ‘We deferred almost all our household spending for six months and thus earned a tidy amount of extra interest.’
    • ‘Irvine has made a tidy living as a controversial tabloid editor, columnist and now owner of his Glasgow-based PR company Media House.’
    • ‘Helen's father, Francis, sold the winning ticket and he received a tidy sum of €440.’
    • ‘For this little upset, she was awarded the tidy sum of £3,500.’
    • ‘All who attended, not just the winners who walked away with a nice tidy sum of money, had a great night.’
    • ‘Well done to both girls who finished the run in a good time and managed to raise a tidy sum of money in sponsorship for Newry and Mourne Hospice.’
    • ‘The Glasgow firm, a world leader in the supply of temporary power and temperature control units, also made a tidy fortune from millennium parties around the world.’
    • ‘They generally look to sell off the businesses between three and five years for a tidy profit.’
    • ‘You could join the thieves guild and make quite a tidy bit of money.’
    • ‘At a fiver a head it would have made a tidy sum for some deserving cause.’
    • ‘The seller will be content to depart with a tidy sum as a reward for years spent developing the enterprise.’
    • ‘However, I plan to retire long before then with a tidy income from company and private pensions, ISAs, property and so on.’
    • ‘He put a tidy amount on at 40-1 and picked up a four-figure sum.’
    • ‘The Poker Run of a few weeks ago benefited St. Vincent's Hospital in Mountmellick and raised a very tidy sum with the money still coming in.’
    • ‘The night is due to be a good one and you never know you might win a tidy sum of money just before Christmas.’
    • ‘He pocketed quite a tidy sum and left a richer man.’
    • ‘It amounts to the tidy sum of several thousand dollars.’
    • ‘This tidy sum may be dinner money for many of you high-flyers, but for the rest of us, it would go down a treat.’
    • ‘At $10 a month per user, that amounts to a tidy sum.’
    • ‘Plus, the money I don't spend on meat will amount to a tidy sum as the years pass.’
    large, sizeable, considerable, substantial, significant, appreciable, handsome, generous, ample, respectable, largish, biggish, fair, decent, decent-sized, healthy
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    1. 2.1Used as a general term of approval.
      ‘City have the backbone of a tidy side’
      • ‘The former Biggar player's tidy performance encapsulated the discipline and focus of a side which had a well-constructed gameplan and which stuck to it as well as they have all year.’


  • 1British [in singular] An act or spell of tidying something.

    ‘she's coming to give his house its Saturday morning tidy’
    • ‘I've collected a few, taken them home and they usually end up in a drawer or get thrown away during the next tidy-up.’
    • ‘They're in need of an autumn tidy, that's for sure, but it's a job that'll keep Graham busy for no more than half a day, possibly as much as a full day.’
    • ‘Following the successful cleaning campaign in October last year, a second tidy-up is being organised as part of Earthday on April 22.’
    • ‘They were taking part in the monthly tidy-up organised by the local Community Association.’
    • ‘It is not that there are any great problems with the house, it just needs a bit of a vac round and a tidy.’
    • ‘The public in return have asked us to pass on their thanks to the Development Group for co-ordinating and promoting the tidy-up.’
    • ‘Many parents of teenagers know all about bedrooms needing a good tidy-up, but how many would require a full-scale archaeological dig?’
    • ‘Do a quick tidy-up if you want and definitely make sure there are no unfinished jobs that could catch your eye.’
    • ‘The point is that the heart of our town needs an injection of pride and a total tidy-up.’
    • ‘Inside, the car gets a much-needed trim tidy-up, with a redesigned instrument cluster and space for satellite navigation and climate control.’
    • ‘It needs some serious cleaning and a good tidy-up, plus a lot of airing.’
    • ‘The money was raised last November, when all the members of the club took part in a sponsored graveyard tidy at St Michael's and All Angel's Church, Haworth.’
    • ‘Rain stopped play on the garage painting project late in the afternoon, so Graham shifted his attention to the inside, doing a major tidy-up on the garage and on his workshop at the back end.’
    • ‘One of her first appeals will be to have the traditional tidy-up done daily by shopkeepers in front of their own premises.’
    • ‘If you just witter vaguely about a dust-round and tidy-up, you've only yourself to blame if you come home to a grimy cooker.’
    • ‘She said people living nearby did their best but they were disappointed that their opportunity for a tidy-up had been spoiled.’
    • ‘Yesterday I did a major tidy of the back room, and I mentioned that I intended doing the same for the front room.’
    • ‘The graveyard looks well after last Sunday's tidy-up - the final one for this year.’
    • ‘Several tons of rubbish were cleaned from houses during the tidy-up.’
    • ‘The insides get a tidy-up too, with better seats and improved trim.’
  • 2[usually with modifier] A receptacle for holding small objects or waste scraps.

    ‘a cable tidy’
    • ‘Cables are the bane of any globetrotting geek's life, and while there seems to be no perfect solution to the misery of self-knotting spaghetti, I am taken with the ease and simplicity of the magnetic cable tidies.’
    • ‘As we look down the inside length of the unit, on the left hand side at the rear is a nice cable tidy, to keep the power leads out of your way.’
    • ‘Disposing of the tub in the kitchen tidy, she searched the lounge room for her mobile phone and wallet.’
    • ‘Indeed, almost as wide and as deep as the car it sits on, the slide-and-tilt sunroof is so spectacularly capacious that the interior could, given a wicker chair or two and a magazine tidy, usefully double as a conservatory.’
    • ‘The pen tidy in question wasn't a container, it was a lump of something jellified with holes in so that you had to choose which pen fitted which hole and then rearrange them like flowers or pineapple chunks on sticks in a grapefruit.’
  • 3US A detachable ornamental cover for a chair back.


  • 1 Bring order to; arrange neatly.

    ‘the boys have finally tidied their bedroom’
    figurative ‘the Bill is intended to tidy up the law on this matter’
    [no object] ‘I'll just go and tidy up’
    • ‘Used needles, rubbish and even a caravan had been left on the site, creating a danger to those tidying it up.’
    • ‘The wells in the old graveyard are being tidied up and cleaned for the day.’
    • ‘When she arrived, Sam brought her to his workstation where they chatted while he tidied his desk.’
    • ‘The good thing about spending all weekend tidying my bedroom is that I have a tidy bedroom.’
    • ‘Suddenly there is nothing to worry about other than tidying my room and sending emails.’
    • ‘He ordered that the place be tidied up to disguise evidence of a party.’
    • ‘This doesn't stop me waking up early and running round tidying the flat, polishing and cleaning.’
    • ‘Thinking they were arguing, she continued vacuum cleaning and tidying the rest of the house.’
    • ‘I welcome their efforts in picking things up off the floor and tidying their rooms.’
    • ‘You wouldn't believe what I found under the rug when I was tidying this place up.’
    • ‘At a knock on her door, she tidied the desk quickly and sat down with a book.’
    • ‘Tributes were also made to everyone who had cleaned and tidied the graves and to those who cut the grass.’
    • ‘I decided to make a start on tidying things in readiness for the move to a new family house.’
    • ‘It is the council which allowed rubble to be tipped there, it is the council which has never cleaned or tidied it.’
    • ‘Surely it's impossible to simply pick up a pile of papers and staple them without tidying them?’
    • ‘If the weather stays reasonable I'll be tidying the garden but that won't take too much effort.’
    • ‘He'd apparently spent all day at home tidying his property and had even had flower-arrangers in to do work.’
    • ‘Then we could see all the chefs tidying stuff away and we realised that it wasn't going to be.’
    • ‘In theory I was supposed to be paying bills and tidying paperwork too, but that never happened.’
    • ‘Today will mostly be spent tidying my flat, which is an utterly disgraceful mess.’
    put in order, clear up, sort out, put to rights, make shipshape, clean, clean up, spruce up
    groom oneself, spruce oneself up, freshen oneself up, preen oneself, primp oneself, prink oneself, pretty oneself, beautify oneself
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    1. 1.1Put something away for the sake of neatness.
      ‘I was tidying away papers in my office’
      • ‘It could be that you want your child to tidy the toys away each day, or change out of his school uniform when he gets home - it's up to you.’
      • ‘It looked like she had been standing there thinking for quite a while, as everything on her desk was tidied away, no work in progress left out, and her chair was neatly pushed in.’
      • ‘To be fair, it was as well they rang, as it forced me into the shower and down to breakfast in time to catch the last of the buffet before it was tidied away for the day.’
      • ‘Well no-one rang, so we tidied some papers away and had a cup of tea.’
      • ‘It wasn't even in the tub marked ‘leather’, which is the only place that someone might tidy it away to by mistake.’
      • ‘His dishes had been tidied away and stacked in the dishwasher; hers remained on the kitchen bench for him to see to.’
      • ‘Mention has already been made of using Velcro loops to tidy the wiring away.’
      • ‘The whirlwind of toddlers has been and gone, (most of) the mess is tidied away, Akra Jr is in bed if not quite asleep yet.’
      • ‘We finished up, tidied things away, then hit the showers.’
      • ‘After tidying the stuff away I popped up to see P and she seemed really well.’


Middle English: from the noun tide + -y. The original meaning was ‘timely, opportune’; it later had various senses expressing approval, usually of a person, including ‘attractive’, ‘healthy’, and ‘skilful’; the sense ‘orderly, neat’ dates from the early 18th century.