Did You Know?
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.
"It was instantly clear, however, that she had not been idle, but busy titivating: painting her nails, washing her hair, doing her face…." — Rosamunde Pilcher, September, 1990
"I came here as a student …, but I spent more time in Cannon Hill Park two miles from the city centre. I clearly remember watching the gardeners titivate the flower beds and strolling past the lake through the many choice trees." — Val Bourne, The Daily Telegraph (London), 21 May 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to create an adjective that is used to describe a neat and tidy appearance: n _ t _ y.VIEW THE ANSWER
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