Everyone Is Jumping Off the Brooklyn Bridge

Monday, September 25, 2006

Words to Your Mother: Spick and span

The phrase "spick and span" -- meaning immaculately clean or brand new -- can't be taken at face value. To begin with, the modern definition of spick seems that it has little to do with the word (especially since this idiom generally is not considered offensive), and the definition for span seems equally unrelated.  As it turns out, "spick" is an archaic variation of "spike".  "Span"  is an abbreviation of "span-new", which means "entirely new".  The connection?  "Spick and span" originally meant something to the effect of "as new as a newly made nail".  So there you go.

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