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.