In the course of a (distressing) NY Times article (by Greg Winter) about the increasing numbers of American students acting like jackasses abroad, the following puzzling locution occurs [NB: grammar fixed thanks to a comment by elck]:
“That will eliminate the student who goes to Australia and just hangs out on the beach and drinks beer,” said David Macey, director of off-campus study at Middlebury. “It will probably clean up virtually all hats.“
I have no idea what the sentence I’ve bolded means; can anyone inform me? For obvious reasons, I’m particularly interested in this usage. (Thanks to Bonnie for the link.)
Update. I think MollKW, in the comments, has cleaned up this hat:
The initial “t” of “that” was dropped as a typo (a common enough one, as Googling for “all hat” shows) and they ran a spelling/grammar check without being too careful about proofreading. Experiment shows that the grammar checker in Microsoft Word by default corrects “This will clean up virtually all hat” to “… virtually all hats”.
QED, and bravo!