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Spic and span?

Posted by ESC on April 11, 2004

In Reply to: Spic and span? posted by ruth on April 11, 2004

: does anyone no where 'Spic and Span' comes from?

Spick-and-span or spic-and-span - "adj. 1665, shortened form of 'spick-and-span-new' new as a recently made spike and chip of wood (1579-80, from spick SPIKE nail = span-new, very new, borrowed from Old Icelandic span-nyr, from span chip + nyr new)." "Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995).

Main Entry: spick-and-span
Variant(s): or spic-and-span /"spik-&n(d)-'span, "spik-&[ng]-/
Function: adjective
Etymology: short for spick-and-span-new, from obsolete English spick spike + English and + span-new brand-new
2 : spotlessly clean
Merriam-Webster online.

And, of course, it is the brand name of a cleaning product: Spic and Span.

Funny you should ask about this phrase. At another discussion group site, we recently discovered that there is a censoring filter that doesn't allow the string of words "spic." Someone wrote suspicious and it was changed to su-hispanic person-ious. So, naturally, I had to post a message that I clean my floors with Spic and Span. It changed to: "I clean my floors with hispanic person and span."