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  1. any evergreen, coniferous tree of the genus Picea, of the pine family, having short, angular, needle-shaped leaves attached singly around twigs and bearing hanging cones with persistent scales.
  2. any of various allied trees, as the Douglas fir and the hemlock spruce.
  3. the wood of any such tree.
  1. made from the wood of a spruce tree or trees.
  2. containing or abounding in spruce trees.

Origin of spruce1

1350–1400; Middle English, special use of Spruce, sandhi variant of Pruce < Old French Pruce < Medieval Latin Prussia Prussia, whence the timber came


adjective, spruc·er, spruc·est.
  1. trim in dress or appearance; neat; smart; dapper.
verb (used with object), spruced, spruc·ing.
  1. to make spruce or smart (often followed by up): Spruce up the children before the company comes.
verb (used without object), spruced, spruc·ing.
  1. to make oneself spruce (usually followed by up).

Origin of spruce2

1580–90; obsolete spruce jerkin orig., jerkin made of spruce leather, i.e., leather imported from Prussia (see spruce1), hence fine, smart, etc.
Related formsspruce·ly, adverbspruce·ness, nounun·spruced, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for spruce


  1. any coniferous tree of the N temperate genus Picea, cultivated for timber and for ornament: family Pinaceae. They grow in a pyramidal shape and have needle-like leaves and light-coloured woodSee also Norway spruce, blue spruce, white spruce, black spruce
  2. the wood of any of these trees

Word Origin

C17: short for Spruce fir, from C14 Spruce Prussia, changed from Pruce, via Old French from Latin Prussia


  1. neat, smart, and trim
Derived Formssprucely, adverbspruceness, noun

Word Origin

C16: perhaps from Spruce leather a fashionable leather imported from Prussia; see spruce 1
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

Word Origin and History for spruce


"evergreen tree," 1660s, from spruse (adj.) "made of spruce wood" (early 15c.), literally "from Prussia," from Spruce, Sprws (late 14c.), unexplained alterations of Pruce "Prussia," from an Old French form of Prussia. Spruce seems to have been a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants (beer, board, leather, see spruce (v.)), and the tree was believed to have come from Prussia.


1590s, from the adjective meaning "to make trim or neat," from spruce leather (mid-15c., see spruce (n.)), which was used to make a popular style of jerkins in the 1400s that was considered smart-looking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper