spit and polish


: extreme attention to cleanliness, orderliness, smartness of appearance, and ceremony often at the expense of operational efficiency
spit-and-polish adjective

Examples of spit and polish in a Sentence

All the car needs is some spit and polish.
Recent Examples on the Web The 19th-century mansion could use a bit of spit and polish but still oozes with old-world craftsmanship and the fanciful, OTT elegance and gracious proportions of a bygone era. Mark David, Robb Report, 8 Nov. 2023 Advertisement - Continue Reading Below 1958 Karmann Ghia Just needs some spit and polish—and a tetanus shot. Joe Lorio, Car and Driver, 19 Aug. 2023 Four years ago, Manchester native Unger and her family purchased Tuck Shop from DJ Fernandes, lending the popular Coronado joint a little European spit and polish, but largely leaving its homey, comfort food vibe intact. Dominic Armato, azcentral, 17 Jan. 2020 For the 2018 model year, the Range Rover Sport takes what Land Rover does well and puts another level of spit and polish on it. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, 12 July 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spit and polish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from the practice of polishing objects such as shoes by spitting on them and then rubbing them with a cloth

First Known Use

1895, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spit and polish was in 1895

Dictionary Entries Near spit and polish

Cite this Entry

“Spit and polish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spit%20and%20polish. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!