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Origin of 'Spruce Up'

Posted by Bruce Kahl on March 13, 2005

In Reply to: Origin of 'Spruce Up' posted by J on March 13, 2005

: : : : Can anyone help with the above, please? Google has produced little other than this site! Thanks. Doug

: : : I can help: Look up "spruce" in the dictionary. Look up "up" in the dictionary.

: : Yes, and if you look it up you will find that the adjective "spruce" meant, in the 16th century and later, trim, neat, smart in appearance. The verb, "to spruce," means to make trim, neat, smart in appearance. To spruce up didn't occur until later, and means the same as "to spruce." SS

: Well.. I tried...

spruce (n.)
"evergreen tree," 1670, from spruse (adj.) "made of spruce wood" , lit. "from Prussia," from Spruce, Sprws , unexplained alterations of Pruce "Prussia," from O.Fr. Spruce seems to have been a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants (beer, board, leather, see spruce (v.)), and the tree was believed to have come from Prussia.

spruce (v.)
1594, from the adj. meaning "to make trim or neat," from spruce leather (1466, see spruce (n.)), which was used to make a popular style of jerkins in the 1400s that was considered smart-looking.

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