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View synonyms for spick-and-span

spick-and-span

[ spik-uhn-span ]

adjective

  1. spotlessly clean and neat:

    a spick-and-span kitchen.

  2. perfectly new; fresh.


adverb

  1. in a spick-and-span manner.

spick-and-span

/ ˈspɪkənˈspæn /

adjective

  1. extremely neat and clean
  2. new and fresh


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Word History and Origins

Origin of spick-and-span1

1570–80; short for spick-and-span-new, alliterative extension of span-new

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Word History and Origins

Origin of spick-and-span1

C17: shortened from spick-and-span-new, from obsolete spick spike, nail + span-new

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Idioms and Phrases

Neat and clean, as in When Ruth has finished cleaning, the whole house is spick and span . This term combines two nouns that are now obsolete, spick , “a nail” or “spike,” and span , “a wooden chip.” In the 1500s a sailing ship was considered spick and span when every spike and chip was brand-new. The transfer to the current sense took place in the mid-1800s.

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Example Sentences

I doubt if Sir Francis had it all so spick-and-span—for in his day we were very nearly as far from lawn mowers as from turbines.

The spick-and-span occupants of the reception bureau evidently regarded him as Room Number So-and-so.

Spick-and-span, he might have stepped out of a glass case, and this was his invariable appearance.

Captain Jerry thought of the spick-and-span days of his wife, dead these twenty years, and sighed again.

He had recognized, despite disguising superficialities of garb and manner, Bertha's once spick-and-span butler.

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from 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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