spit and polish

Slang Dictionary

spit and polish definition


  1. n.
    orderliness; ceremonial precision and orderliness. (Alludes to carefully polishing shoes to a high level of shine.) : I like spit and polish. It comes from being in the military.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;