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spit and polish

great care in maintaining smart appearance and crisp efficiency:
The commander was concerned more with spit and polish than with the company's morale.
Related forms
[spit-n-pol-ish] /ˈspɪt nˈpɒl ɪʃ/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for spit-and-polish
Historical Examples
  • He stood five-eight, and his red and gold Space Service uniform gleamed with spit-and-polish luster.

    Unwise Child Gordon Randall Garrett
British Dictionary definitions for spit-and-polish

spit and polish

(informal) punctilious attention to neatness, discipline, etc, esp in the armed forces
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for spit-and-polish

spin one's wheels

verb phrase

To waste time; work fruitlessly: Nobody spun his wheels. I'm proud of them/ Stop spinning your wheels, get yourself in gear (1940s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with spit-and-polish

spit and polish

Close attention to appearance and order, as in With a little spit and polish this house will sell very quickly. This expression originated in the military, presumably alluding to literally shining up something with the aid of a little saliva. There it also came to mean “too much attention to appearance, and not enough to more important concerns,” as in The commander is so concerned with spit and polish that he overlooks the crew's morale. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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