adjective, spruc·er, spruc·est.
- trim in dress or appearance; neat; smart; dapper.
verb (used with object), spruced, spruc·ing.
- to make spruce or smart (often followed by up): Spruce up the children before the company comes.
verb (used without object), spruced, spruc·ing.
- to make oneself spruce (usually followed by up).
Origin of spruce2
1580–90;Related formsspruce·ly, adverbspruce·ness, nounun·spruced, adjective
obsolete spruce jerkin
orig., jerkin made of spruce leather,
i.e., leather imported from Prussia (see spruce1
), hence fine, smart, etc.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for spruce-up
- any coniferous tree of the N temperate genus Picea, cultivated for timber and for ornament: family Pinaceae. They grow in a pyramidal shape and have needle-like leaves and light-coloured woodSee also Norway spruce, blue spruce, white spruce, black spruce
- the wood of any of these trees
C17: short for Spruce fir, from C14 Spruce Prussia, changed from Pruce, via Old French from Latin PrussiaDerived Formssprucely, adverbspruceness, noun
C16: perhaps from Spruce leather a fashionable leather imported from Prussia; see spruce 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for spruce-up
"evergreen tree," 1660s, from spruse (adj.) "made of spruce wood" (early 15c.), literally "from Prussia," from Spruce, Sprws (late 14c.), unexplained alterations of Pruce "Prussia," from an Old French form of Prussia. Spruce seems to have been a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants (beer, board, leather, see spruce (v.)), and the tree was believed to have come from Prussia.
1590s, from the adjective meaning "to make trim or neat," from spruce leather (mid-15c., see spruce (n.)), which was used to make a popular style of jerkins in the 1400s that was considered smart-looking.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper