verb (used with object)
to make smooth and glossy, especially by rubbing or friction: to polish a brass doorknob.
to render finished, refined, or elegant: His speech needs polishing.
verb (used without object)
to become smooth and glossy through polishing: a flooring that polishes easily.
Archaic. to become refined or elegant.
a substance used to give smoothness or gloss: shoe polish.
the act of polishing.
state of being polished.
smoothness and gloss of surface.
superiority of manner or execution; refinement; elegance: the polish of a professional singer.
Verb phrases
polish off, Informal.
to finish or dispose of quickly: They polished off a gallon of ice cream between them.
to subdue or get rid of someone: The fighter polished off his opponent in the first round.
polish up, to improve; refine: She took lessons to polish up her speech.

1250–1300; Middle English polishen < Middle French poliss-, long stem of polir < Latin polīre to polish; see -ish2

polisher, noun
depolish, verb (used with object)
interpolish, verb (used with object)
overpolish, verb (used with object)
prepolish, noun, verb (used with object)
repolish, verb, noun

1. shine, brighten, burnish, buff, smooth. 8. shine, gleam. Polish, gloss, luster, sheen refer to a smooth, shining, or bright surface from which light is reflected. Polish suggests the smooth, bright reflection often produced by friction: rubbed to a high polish. Gloss suggests a superficial, hard smoothness characteristic of lacquered, varnished, or enameled surfaces: a gloss on oilcloth, on paper. Luster denotes the characteristic quality of the light reflected from the surfaces of certain materials (pearls, silk, wax, freshly cut metals, etc.): a pearly luster. Sheen sometimes poetical, suggests a glistening brightness such as that reflected from the surface of silk or velvet, or from furniture oiled and hand-polished: a rich velvety sheen. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
polish (ˈpɒlɪʃ)
1.  to make or become smooth and shiny by rubbing, esp with wax or an abrasive
2.  (tr) to make perfect or complete
3.  to make or become elegant or refined
4.  a finish or gloss
5.  the act of polishing or the condition of having been polished
6.  a substance used to produce a smooth and shiny, often protective surface
7.  elegance or refinement, esp in style, manner, etc
[C13 polis, from Old French polir, from Latin polīre to polish]

Polish (ˈpəʊlɪʃ)
1.  of, relating to, or characteristic of Poland, its people, or their language
2.  the official language of Poland, belonging to the West Slavonic branch of the Indo-European family

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. poliss-, prp. stem of polir "to polish," from L. polire "to polish, make smooth," of unknown origin. The notion of "to free from coarseness, to refine" first recorded mid-14c. Polished "elegant" is attested from early 15c. Slang polish off "finish" is 1837, from notion of applying
a coat of polish being the final step in a piece of work. The noun is first recorded c.1704, from the verb.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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