There are 2 main definitions of polish in English:

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polish 1

Pronunciation: /ˈpɒlɪʃ/


[with object]
1Make the surface of (something) smooth and shiny by rubbing it: behind the bar the steward polished glasses busily
More example sentences
  • A housekeeper polishes a glass cabinet displaying delicate mementos from Norway and New Zealand.
  • The ends of the cork stoppers are then polished to present a smooth surface to the wine.
  • A woman in a grey smock goes round polishing each glass cover after it's been kissed.
shine, wax, buff, rub up, rub down;
gloss, burnish, brighten, smooth;
archaic furbish
1.1Improve, refine, or add the finishing touches to: he’s got to polish up his French for his job
More example sentences
  • So now it's the adults' turn to polish up their singing, dancing, recitation and music playing skills in time for the Senior Scor competition in February.
  • Once the boat lift is open you'll be desperate to get in on the fantastic sailing and canoeing opportunities it opens up and who better to help you polish up your technique than Monster Activities.
  • Locally, you might polish up your work for the Alexandra Writers' Centre Society FreeFall Fiction and Poetry Contest.
perfect, refine, improve, hone, embellish, enhance, put the finishing/final touches to;
brush up, revise, copy-edit, correct, emend, rewrite, rephrase, rescript, go over, touch up, finish off
informal clean up


[mass noun]
1A substance used to give something a smooth and shiny surface when rubbed in: a tin of shoe polish
More example sentences
  • Disguise scratches in your wood furniture with shoe polish, crayon or felt tip markers.
  • The 49-year-old first had the idea for the invention when his mother, who suffered from arthritis, told him she was having trouble opening a tin of shoe polish.
  • He wore a serviceable but plain jerkin over a woolen shirt that was warm and comfortable but darned in two places, and his boots could have used a shinier coat of polish.
1.1 [in singular] An act of rubbing something to give it a shiny surface: I could give the wardrobe a polish
More example sentences
  • The underside of the panelled floor can be painted any colour, and the glass is sandblasted for a raised texture and given an acid polish for a shiny non-slip surface.
  • I've even been damp dusting rather than just a quick polish but it's barely touching the surface.
  • The heat burnishes the surface, creating a look different from a wet polish.
1.2Smoothness or glossiness produced by rubbing or friction: the machine refines the shape of the stone and gives it polish
More example sentences
  • A high degree of polish is achieved when the shaping plywood forms are faced with smooth plastic and the concrete is vibrated as it is being poured in place.
  • The floors sparkled with polish, as did the freshly cleaned windows and chandelier.
  • Grace holds herself up with her hand against the floor, which has acquired a bright sheen of polish.
1.3Refinement or elegance in a person or thing: his poetry has clarity and polish
More example sentences
  • We are so covered with layers and layers of refinement, of social polish, of airs and graces and civilization and pretensions that the human in us almost ceases to exist.
  • He soon made a strong impression in Germany as a brilliant and original conductor, who achieved great polish and refinement in his performances.
  • That sign is to remind them that if they don't behave with polish and refinement at all times, they'll be punished.
sophistication, refinement, urbanity, suavity, suaveness, elegance, style, grace, finish, accomplishment, finesse, subtlety, distinction, taste, cultivation, culture, politeness, civility, gentility, breeding, courtesy, courteousness, (good) manners
informal class
humorous couth

Phrasal verbs

polish something off

Quickly finish or consume something: they polished off most of the sausages
More example sentences
  • Desserts of chocolate cake and hyper-decadent peach meringue sundae were quickly polished off, followed a fine selection of Isle of Mull cheeses and coffee.
  • Both were polished off quickly and when the bill came for the food (drinks are paid for separately), it was only £11.
  • Squid rings and the latter were the choices to start, and were polished off really quickly, despite there being only five of us.
eat up, finish, consume, devour, eat greedily, guzzle, feast on, binge-eat, wolf down, down, bolt;
informal binge on, stuff one's face with, stuff oneself with, get outside of, murder, pack away, put away, scoff (down), shovel down, pig oneself on, pig out on, sink, swill, knock back, get one's laughing gear round
British informal shift, gollop, bevvy
North American informal scarf (down/up), snarf (down/up), inhale, chug
complete, finish, deal with, wrap up, accomplish, execute, discharge, do, get done, fulfil, achieve, attain, end, conclude, close, bring to a conclusion/end/close, finalize, stop, cease, terminate, round off, wind up
informal sew up, have something sewn up



Example sentences
  • The uniform will include a blazer and tie along with ‘black sensible shoes’ which must be ‘polishable and polished’.
  • Also, females at my school were only allowed to wear black, lace up, polishable shoes in a feminine style.


Pronunciation: /ˈpɒlɪʃə/
Example sentences
  • A team of carpenters, glaziers, polishers and other craftsman are on site to restore the original building, repair cast iron gutters and fall pipes, and replace the windows in hardwood to the original specification.
  • They include the woman who bustles self-importantly, organising the readers, and the brass polishers; and the man who feels the need to prostrate himself with arms across his body each time he leaves his pew.
  • The diamonds he watches so closely are not the rocks on the rings of the rich and famous, they are tiny grains of pure carbon coating the blades, polishers and shapers the company produces.


Middle English: from Old French poliss-, lengthened stem of polir 'to polish', from Latin polire.

  • polite from Late Middle English:

    Latin politus ‘polished, made smooth’ is the source of polite, with polish (Middle English) coming from the same root via French. Polite was originally used to mean ‘polished’, with the sense of something that is carefully finished and maintained being transferred to language and behaviour around 1500.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pol¦ish

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There are 2 main definitions of polish in English:

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Polish 2

Pronunciation: /ˈpəʊlɪʃ/


Relating to Poland, its inhabitants, or their language.
Example sentences
  • The most difficult discussions centred on the Polish government and Poland's frontiers.
  • Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish premier.
  • He was born in 1926, in the Czech mill town of Ostrava, an afternoon's walk from the Polish border.


[mass noun]
The Western Slavic language of Poland, spoken by more than 40 million people.
Example sentences
  • Cornell brought in a Polish women who said that the medium did in fact speak Polish.
  • He escaped only because he was allowed to make a phone call and was able to alert his wife by speaking in his native Polish.
  • If you don't speak Polish, click on the Union Jack icon at the top left for details in English.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Pol¦ish

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