- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- polish up, to improve; refine: She took lessons to polish up her speech.
Origin of polish
SynonymsSee more synonyms for polish on Thesaurus.com
- 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
- (tr) 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
- 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
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."
Idioms and Phrases with 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.
In addition to the idioms beginning with polish
- polish off
- polish the apple
- spit and polish