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[sproos] /sprus/
adjective, sprucer, sprucest.
trim in dress or appearance; neat; smart; dapper.
verb (used with object), spruced, sprucing.
to make spruce or smart (often followed by up):
Spruce up the children before the company comes.
verb (used without object), spruced, sprucing.
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 forms
sprucely, adverb
spruceness, noun
unspruced, adjective


[sproos-uhp] /ˈsprusˌʌp/
an act of cleaning up, refurbishing, renovating, or the like.
noun use of verb phrase spruce up Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spruce up
Historical Examples
  • That's why you are become so well-dressed, Horatio; I wondered how you came to spruce up so!

  • I'll shave up an' spruce up jest as soon as I've made my pile.

  • spruce up an' tell 'em like-ez-how this air goin' to be a double trick!

    Polly and Eleanor Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • My ole mistus took me to Sunday school with her and I spruce up in dat hat.

  • Bonhag really wanted Cowperwood to spruce up and show what he could do, socially or otherwise.

    The Financier Theodore Dreiser
  • Rooms were obtained at the best hotel in the place, and both Frank and Bart proceeded without delay to spruce up.

    Frank Merriwell's Triumph Burt L. Standish
  • In a pathetic attempt to spruce up, he knotted the red bandanna around his neck and pinched Salzar's slouch hat into a peak.

    The Flaming Jewel Robert W. Chambers
  • The girl had helped "spruce up" Aunt 'Mira long since, so that they could go to church together on Sundays.

    Janice Day Helen Beecher Long
  • As soon as they arrived on board, they were turned over to the steward, who provided them with quarters in which to spruce up.

    The Boy Scouts for Uncle Sam

    John Henry Goldfrap
  • The lake appeared to be inclosed on three sides by amphitheatric mountains, black with spruce up to the gray walls of rock.

British Dictionary definitions for spruce up

spruce up

(adverb) to make (oneself, a person, or thing) smart and neat


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 wood See also Norway spruce, blue spruce, white spruce, black spruce
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


neat, smart, and trim
Derived Forms
sprucely, adverb
spruceness, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Spruce leather a fashionable leather imported from Prussia; see spruce1
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 spruce up



"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
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Idioms and Phrases with spruce up

spruce up

Make neat and trim, as in She spruced up the chairs with new cushions. This idiom originated in the late 1500s as simply spruce but had acquired up by 1676.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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