- These hospitals are enormously busy public areas with a lot of people moving around in them, and keeping them really clean and spick and span can be quite a difficult job.
- Even though he had cleaned the bathroom spick and span just now, it was still not enough for redemption!
- ‘The mothers have done a great job because they're very neat and tidy’ and the new uniforms were all spic and span.
Late 16th century (in the sense 'brand new'): from spick and span new, emphatic extension of dialect span new, from Old Norse spán-nýr, from spánn 'chip' + nýr 'new'; spick influenced by Dutch spiksplinternieuw, literally 'splinter new'.
‘My Lady Batten walking through the dirty lane with new spick and span white shoes’, writes Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1665. He was not saying that her shoes were clean or neat, but that they were brand new, which is what spick and span meant in the 17th century. It was based on the earlier phrase spick and span new, a more emphatic version of the dialect span new, which came from Old Norse spán-nýr, ‘as new as a freshly cut wooden chip’. The spick part was influenced by Dutch spiksplinternieuw, literally ‘splinter new’.
For editors and proofreaders
Saltos de línea: spick and span
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