Coast Is Clear – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Ever planned a surprise birthday party and said the coast is clear when the birthday girl or boy was nowhere in sight? Let’s go right into this phrase’s roots and learn its meaning, origin, and how to use it in sentences. Just make sure the coast is clear so you won’t be interrupted while reading!

The Coast Is Clear Meaning Explained

Coast Is Clear Idiom Origin Meaning

The phrase “the coast is clear” is used when the path is free of obstacles or potential dangers. Basically, it means that it’s time to proceed. It’s when you’re going to steal the last slice of pizza without anyone noticing (you didn’t hear that from me).

The Coast Is Clear Origin and Etymology

The Coast is Clear Ngram
The coast is clear usage trend.

The phrase “the coast is clear” goes back to the times when pirates ruled the high seas. Ships would wait off the coast, ensuring that the coast was clear of adversaries before proceeding to dock or unload their treasures.

One of its first figurative uses was by Michael Drayton in the early 1600s with a poem called “Nymphidia.”

Over the years, this seafaring term made its way into everyday language, and here we are, using it to sneak cookies and organize surprise parties.

Fun fact: There’s actually a Cuban version with the opposite intent, “No hay Moros en la costa,” which translates to “There are Moors on the coast.” It was used to warn adults that there were kids around, so watch what you say.

The Coast Is Clear Synonyms

If you want to vary your language or add a touch of stealth, here are some other phrases that essentially mean the same thing.

  • All’s clear
  • The way is clear
  • Clear sailing
  • No one in sight
  • Free and clear

The Is Coast Clear Examples in a Sentence

Coast Is Clear Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • As soon as my boss left the office, I whispered over the phone, “The coast is clear.”
  • “Is the coast clear?” she asked, peering around the corner before taking the stage for her surprise performance.
  • He waited until the coast was clear, then slipped the secret document into his bag.
  • “Signal us when the coast is clear,” instructed the bank robber in the movie.
  • “The coast is clear, guys,” said the scout, and we moved ahead, relieved.
  • “Is the coast clear?” “Yes, you can come out now.”
  • They waited until the coast was clear before smuggling the artwork across the border.
  • “Can you check if the coast is clear?” I asked, not wanting to be seen leaving early.
  • “The coast is clear,” he whispered, giving us the cue to run.
  • We waited until the coast was clear before starting the surprise party.

We’ve Cleared the Coast on This Phrase

And there you have it! “The coast is clear” is a rich and colorful idiom, sailing straight from the high seas into our everyday language. The next time you need to communicate that the path is free of obstacles or dangers, remember this phrase. But don’t blame me if you get caught snagging that last slice of pizza!