grammatical expression: spic and span

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It’s almost spring time and that means in many parts of the world people will soon start to do their spring cleaning. So, today,I’d like to go over an expression that we often use when talking about cleaning: spic and span.

We use this to describe the state of something that has been completely cleaned. Let me give you some examples.

I cleaned my room and now it’s spic and span.

My mother wants this kitchen spic and span by the time she gets home.

I like to have a clean house, but I don’t care if it’s spic and span.

As you can see from my example sentences, we use the verb “be” in front of this expression, so it’s usually used as an adjective.

Please note that the word “spic” is sometimes spelled “spick”.

The origin of this expression seems to come from the original meaning of the two words separately. The word “spick” referred to a spike or nail and was taken to mean something neat and trim. The word “span” seems to have come from the term “span-new” which meant new as a freshly cut wood chip. Therefore, “span” was associated with something new and unstained. I wasn’t able to find out when the two terms started to be used together to mean something which is totally clean.

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