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lick and a promise, a

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A superficial effort made without care or enthusiasm. For example, I haven't time to do a good job of vacuuming, just enough for a lick and a promise. This expression is believed to allude to the quick lick a cat or other animal might give itself and a promise to do more or better at some future time. [Mid-1800s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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