spick and span


spotlessly clean and neat: a spick-and-span kitchen.
perfectly new; fresh.
in a spick-and-span manner.

1570–80; short for spick-and-span-new, alliterative extension of span-new

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World English Dictionary
spick-and-span or spic-and-span (ˈspɪkənˈspæn)
1.  extremely neat and clean
2.  new and fresh
[C17: shortened from spick-and-span-new, from obsolete spick spike, nail + span-new]
spic-and-span or spic-and-span
[C17: shortened from spick-and-span-new, from obsolete spick spike, nail + span-new]

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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

spick and span

Neat and clean, as in When Ruth has finished cleaning, the whole house is spick and span. This term combines two nouns that are now obsolete, spick, "a nail" or "spike," and span, "a wooden chip." In the 1500s a sailing ship was considered spick and span when every spike and chip was brand-new. The transfer to the current sense took place in the mid-1800s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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