tit·​i·​vate ˈti-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce titivate (audio)
variants or tittivate
titivated; titivating

transitive verb

: to make smart or spruce
titivation noun

Did you know?

titivate, spruce up, smarten up, or spiff up?

Titivate, spruce, smarten, and spiff all mean "to make a person or thing neater or more attractive." Titivate often refers to making small additions or alterations in attire ("titivate the costume with sequins and other accessories"), but it can also be used figuratively (as in "titivating the script for Broadway"). Spruce up is sometimes used for cosmetic changes or renovations that give the appearance of newness ("spruce up the house with new shutters and fresh paint before trying to sell it"). Smarten up and spiff up both mean to improve in appearance often by making more neat or stylish ("the tailor smartened up the suit with minor alterations"; "he needed some time to spiff himself up for the party"). The origins of titivate are uncertain, but it may have been formed from the English words tidy and renovate.

Word History


perhaps from tidy entry 1 + renovate

First Known Use

1824, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of titivate was in 1824


Dictionary Entries Near titivate

Cite this Entry

“Titivate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/titivate. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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