spit and polish


great care in maintaining smart appearance and crisp efficiency: The commander was concerned more with spit and polish than with the company's morale.

Nearby words

  1. spiruroidea,
  2. spiry,
  3. spissatus,
  4. spissitude,
  5. spit,
  6. spit curl,
  7. spit in the ocean,
  8. spit take,
  9. spit up,
  10. spit-shine

Related formsspit-and-polish [spit-n-pol-ish] /ˈspɪt nˈpɒl ɪʃ/, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spit and polish

  • He stood five-eight, and his red and gold Space Service uniform gleamed with spit-and-polish luster.

    Unwise Child|Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for spit and polish

spit and polish


informal punctilious attention to neatness, discipline, etc, esp in the armed forces
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

Idioms and Phrases with spit and polish

spit and polish

Close attention to appearance and order, as in With a little spit and polish this house will sell very quickly. This expression originated in the military, presumably alluding to literally shining up something with the aid of a little saliva. There it also came to mean “too much attention to appearance, and not enough to more important concerns,” as in The commander is so concerned with spit and polish that he overlooks the crew's morale. [Late 1800s]

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