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spic-and-span

adj.

1660s, from spick-and-span-new (1570s), literally "new as a recently made spike and chip of wood," from spick "nail" (see spike (n.1)) + span-new "very new" (c.1300), from Old Norse span-nyr, from spann "chip" (see spoon (n.)) + nyr "new." Imitation of Dutch spiksplinter nieuw "spike-splinter new."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Related Words

demure, spruce, tidy, correct, uncluttered, Victorian, ceremonial, ceremonious, choosy, cleanly, conventional, dapper, decorous, fastidious, formal, genteel, good, goody-goody, nice, orderly

Examples from the Web for spic-and-span

Historical Examples

  • "Spic-and-span" is hardly the phrase by which to describe them.

    The Romance of a Great Store

    Edward Hungerford

  • The Northumberland Fusiliers deserve that name because they are always so spic-and-span.

  • The previously spic-and-span New Zealand Army grew dirty-faced, unshaven, and ragged looking.

  • This youth was spic-and-span from the Military Academy, with a top-dressing of three months' thoughtful travel in Germany.