I have a question about the usage of the verb "clear" here:

Sittenfeld is new to politics; the sum total of his electoral experience consists of serving on the Cincinnati City Council for the last four years. He is only 30 years old. If he wins next November, he would just barely clear the Senate’s Constitutional age requirement.

I cannot find a dictionary definition that fits this usage of the verb "clear". Could this be an error?

  • 1
    Here it just means that he would just barely meet the age requirement, just barely be of the minimum required age.
    – Vlammuh
    Jul 6, 2015 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


I can't find it in a dictionary, either, but that doesn't mean it's an "error." Not all usages make it into every dictionary.

As for the meaning, it reminds me of the phrase clear the bar, which is an expression borrowed from sports:

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In this case, the age requirement is a being used as metaphorical bar that must be "cleared."


No, it's not an error. Look at Merriam-Webster's definition for clear; see the third sense 3clear which is a verb. Definition 7b has "to move through successfully". This is probably a metaphorical version of definition 7a, "to go over, under, or by without touching", in which a physical object has to go past physical obstructions. As used in your example, the "obstructions" are laws which almost prevent him from joining the Senate.

  • So, the usage "clear the age requirement" is a bit of a metaphorical stretch?
    – meatie
    Jul 6, 2015 at 23:50
  • 3
    I don't think I would call it a "stretch" - it's pretty common to use clear in this way. For example, when you're at an airport, you might speak of clearing security, clearing customs, etc. Jul 6, 2015 at 23:53

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