clean slate

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Originally a log-slate, on which the courses steered by a ship and the distances run as indicated on a log were written in chalk during the course of a watch. At the end of the watch, the information on the slate was entered in the deck-log and the slate wiped clean so that the officer keeping the next watch could enter on it the courses and distances made good during his watch. The term has entered the English language as an expression meaning that past action and occurrences are forgotten (wiped off the slate) and a new start can be made.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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