Clear the Boards

I have found “clear the boards” used a few times online in the sense that you describe, but I haven’t found it documented in any reference work. My guess is that this use is a blend of “clear the decks” (originally meaning to remove obstacles from the deck of a ship in preparation for battle) with, perhaps, “sweep the boards.” There’s also an established phrase “to clear one’s desk,” used in a sense very close to your “clear the boards.” There might be a bit of “clear the table” (as after a meal) or perhaps a notion of some kind of scoreboard that might be zeroed out in there too. The important thing is that when I read your question the phrase “clear the boards” seemed entirely logical and clear to me.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Maneki Nekko:

    I think “clear the boards” derives from railroaders’ jargon. To have a clear board means that it is OK for the train to proceed down the track.

  2. Hugh Rutledge:

    I tend to visualize this as clearing all the red lights on some electronics control board.

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