[ pol-ish ]
See synonyms for polish on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to make smooth and glossy, especially by rubbing or friction: to polish a brass doorknob.

  2. to render finished, refined, or elegant: His speech needs polishing.

verb (used without object)
  1. to become smooth and glossy through polishing: a flooring that polishes easily.

  2. Archaic. to become refined or elegant.

  1. a substance used to give smoothness or gloss: shoe polish.

  2. the act of polishing.

  1. state of being polished.

  2. smoothness and gloss of surface.

  3. superiority of manner or execution; refinement; elegance: the polish of a professional singer.

Verb Phrases
  1. polish off, Informal.

    • to finish or dispose of quickly: They polished off a gallon of ice cream between them.

    • to subdue or get rid of someone: The fighter polished off his opponent in the first round.

  2. polish up, to improve; refine: She took lessons to polish up her speech.

Origin of polish

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English polishen, from Middle French poliss-, long stem of polir, from Latin polīre “to polish”; see -ish2

synonym study For polish

8. 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.

Other words for polish

Other words from polish

  • pol·ish·er, noun
  • de·pol·ish, verb (used with object)
  • in·ter·pol·ish, verb (used with object)
  • o·ver·pol·ish, verb (used with object)
  • pre·pol·ish, noun, verb (used with object)
  • re·pol·ish, verb, noun

Words Nearby polish

Other definitions for Polish (2 of 2)

[ poh-lish ]

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Poland, its inhabitants, or their language.

  1. a Slavic language, the principal language of Poland. Abbreviation: Pol

Origin of Polish

First recorded in 1695–1705; Pole + -ish1

Other words from Polish

  • anti-Polish, noun, adjective
  • non-Polish, adjective, noun
  • pre-Polish, adjective
  • pro-Polish, adjective
  • pseudo-Polish, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use polish in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for polish (1 of 2)


/ (ˈpɒlɪʃ) /

  1. to make or become smooth and shiny by rubbing, esp with wax or an abrasive

  2. (tr) to make perfect or complete

  1. to make or become elegant or refined

  1. a finish or gloss

  2. the act of polishing or the condition of having been polished

  1. a substance used to produce a smooth and shiny, often protective surface

  2. elegance or refinement, esp in style, manner, etc

Origin of polish

C13 polis, from Old French polir, from Latin polīre to polish

Derived forms of polish

  • polishable, adjective
  • polisher, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Polish (2 of 2)


/ (ˈpəʊlɪʃ) /

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Poland, its people, or their language

  1. 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with polish


In addition to the idioms beginning with polish

  • polish off
  • polish the apple

also see:

  • spit and polish

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