Student Dictionary

One entry found for neat.
Main Entry: neat
Pronunciation: primarystressnemacront
Function: adjective
Etymology: from earlier neat "bright, shining," from early French net (same meaning), from Latin nitidus (same meaning), from nitemacronre "to shine" --related to 3NET
1 : being orderly and clean : TIDY <a neat roommate> <a neat closet>
2 : not mixed or diluted : STRAIGHT 3d <neat cement>
3 : marked by tasteful simplicity <neat furnishings>
4 : marked by skill or ingenuity : ADROIT <a neat dive>
5 : 3FINE 4, splendid <had a neat time>
- neatĚly adverb
- neatĚness noun
Word History Today a popular use of the word neat is to mean "fine, splendid." It is a use that does not appear to have much in common with earlier meanings of the word such as "tidy" or "undiluted." But in its newest sense of "splendid," something that is "neat" might be thought of as a brilliant or shining example of the best of its kind. And this idea is very close to the origin of the word. Neat first began to be used in English about 400 years ago. It was borrowed from the early French word net, which in turn was taken from Latin nitidus, meaning "bright, shining." At first neat was used in English with the same meaning, as in "a neat new metal pin." This original sense in time fell out of use. But the idea of something bright and clean and sparkling and new gave us other meanings. One of these is the sense of "tidy," as in "a neat room or desk." Perhaps the idea of something clean also gave rise to the sense of neat meaning "not mixed or diluted" with anything. The idea of "tidy" certainly must have been the basis of the sense of "marked by tasteful simplicity." And since all of these senses suggest something that is viewed as ideal, it is easy to understand that they should lead to the newest sense of neat, meaning "splendid." When first used in English, splendid also meant "shining," coming from a Latin verb meaning "to shine."
synonyms NEAT, TIDY, TRIM mean showing care and concern for order. NEAT stresses that something is clean in addition to being orderly <your clothes should always be neat>. TIDY suggests that something is continually kept orderly and neat <I work hard to keep my room tidy>. TRIM stresses that something is orderly and compact <trim comfortable houses>.

Pronunciation Symbols