verb (used with object) Informal.

to make spiffy (usually followed by up): Let's spiff up this office with new furniture.

Origin of spiff

1875–80; perhaps v. use of dial. spiff well-dressed; see spiffy




a bonus or other form of remuneration given to retail salespeople for promoting the products of a particular manufacturer.

verb (used with object)

to reward (a salesperson) with a spiff.

Origin of spiff

First recorded in 1855–60; origin uncertain



adjective, spiff·i·er, spiff·i·est. Informal.

spruce; smart; fine.
Also spif·fing [spif-ing] /ˈspɪf ɪŋ/; especially British, spivvy, spivving.

Origin of spiffy

1855–60; dial. spiff well-dressed (origin uncertain) + -y1
Related formsspiff·i·ly, adverbspiff·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spiffing

Historical Examples of spiffing

  • I've got a pair of spiffing caps for you; do for church if you like.

  • "Spiffing," agreed Iva, who was also inspecting the new acquisitions.

    A Fortunate Term

    Angela Brazil

  • It was impossible for any one to deny that such a thing would be spiffing in the very highest possible degree.

    Priscilla's Spies

    George A. Birmingham

British Dictionary definitions for spiffing



British slang, old-fashioned excellent; splendid

Word Origin for spiffing

C19: probably from dialect spiff spruce, smartly dressed


adjective -fier or -fiest

US and Canadian slang smart; stylish
Derived Formsspiffily, adverbspiffiness, noun

Word Origin for spiffy

C19: from dialect spiff
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

Word Origin and History for spiffing



1853, of uncertain origin, probably related to spiff "well-dressed man." Spiffing "excellent" was very popular in 1870s slang. Uncertain relationship to spiff (n.) "percentage allowed by drapers to their young men when they effect sale of old fashioned or undesirable stock" (1859), or to spiflicate "confound, overcome completely," a cant word from 1749 preserved in American English slang spiflicated "drunk," first recorded 1906 in O.Henry.



"make neat or spruce," 1877 (with up or out), probably from spiffy (q.v.). Related: Spiffed; spiffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper