In the last two, weeks, I have had an annual visit to my family doctor and my cardiologist. Funny how that works, as you get older.
In both visits, I was told everything is fine. I remember when this used to happen, someone would say, “I got a clean bill of health.”
The term means exactly that — an assurance that someone is healthy. It can also apply a business after they are checked out.
Long ago, the clean bill of health was a taken more literally. It meant a certificate from the proper authority that a ship is free from infection. All the crew of the ship were in good health , in other words.
Wikipedia describes a clean bill of health as:
A bill of health is a document issued by the consul or the public authorities of the port which a ship sails from, descriptive of the health of the port at the time of the vessel’s clearance. A clean bill of health certifies that at the date of its issue no infectious disease was known to exist either in the port or its neighborhood. A suspected or touched bill of health reports that rumors were in circulation that an infectious disease had appeared but that the rumor had not been confirmed by any known cases. A foul bill of health or the absence of a clean bill of health implies that the place the vessel cleared from was infected with a contagious disease. The two latter cases would render the vessel liable to quarantine.