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[pol-ish] /ˈpɒl ɪʃ/
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.
  1. to finish or dispose of quickly:
    They polished off a gallon of ice cream between them.
  2. 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.
Origin of polish
1250-1300; Middle English polishen < Middle French poliss-, long stem of polir < Latin polīre to polish; see -ish2
Related forms
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. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for polish off

polish off

verb (transitive, adverb) (informal)
to finish or process completely
to dispose of or kill; eliminate


to make or become smooth and shiny by rubbing, esp with wax or an abrasive
(transitive) to make perfect or complete
to make or become elegant or refined
a finish or gloss
the act of polishing or the condition of having been polished
a substance used to produce a smooth and shiny, often protective surface
elegance or refinement, esp in style, manner, etc
See also polish off, polish up
Derived Forms
polishable, adjective
polisher, noun
Word Origin
C13 polis, from Old French polir, from Latin polīre to polish


of, relating to, or characteristic of Poland, its people, or their language
the official language of Poland, belonging to the West Slavonic branch of the Indo-European family
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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Word Origin and History for polish off



early 14c., polischen "make smooth," from Old French poliss-, present participle stem of polir (12c.) "to polish, decorate, see to one's appearance," from Latin polire "to polish, make smooth; decorate, embellish;" figuratively "refine, improve," said to be from Proto-Indo-European *pel- "to thrust, strike, drive" (via the notion of fulling cloth). The sense of "free from coarseness, to refine" first recorded in English mid-14c. Related: Polished; polishing. Slang polish off "finish" is 1837, from notion of applying a coat of polish being the final step in a piece of work.



1590s, "absence of coarseness," from polish (v.). From 1704 as "act of polishing;" 1819 as "substance used in polishing."



1670s, from Pole + -ish. Related: Polishness. Polish-American attested from 1898.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for polish off

polish off

verb phrase

  1. To eat; consume, esp quickly andheartily: I had polished off a platter of beans (1873+)
  2. To finish; accomplish: He polished off the week's quota in four days (1837+)
  3. To put out of action; defeat; kill: Polish him off by crowning him with a Coca-Cola bottle (1829+)

[fr the notion of finishing a piece of work by giving it a final polish]


Related Terms

is the pope polish

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 polish off

polish off

Finish or dispose of, especially quickly and easily. For example, We polished off the pie in no time, or If everyone helps, we can polish off this job today. This usage, dating from the early 1800s, came from boxing, where it originally meant “to defeat an opponent quickly and easily.” By the 1830s it was used more generally.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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