polish

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polish a turd

slang To make something unpleasant seem more appealing than it really is—which is often a futile effort. "Turd" is a slang term for a piece of feces. Look, man, your term paper was bad before, and all of your edits are just making it worse—polishing a turd won't make it better.
See also: polish, turd

you can't polish a turd

You can't make something unpleasant seem more appealing than it really is—attempting to do so is often a futile effort. "Turd" is a slang term for a piece of feces. Look, man, your term paper was bad before, and all of your edits are just making it worse—you can't polish a turd, you know.
See also: polish, turd

polish (something) off

To consume, dispose of, or finish all of something very quickly or easily. I was still hungry after dinner, so I polished off the leftover Chinese food in the fridge. I'll come to the party a little later; I just need to polish off this essay first.
See also: off, polish

spit and polish

Maintenance of and close attention to the cleanliness and orderliness of something. Sure, it needs some spit and polish, but it's still a damn reliable truck! Our manager demands spit and polish whenever we clean up the kitchen at the end of the night.
See also: and, polish, spit

polish something off

to eat, consume, exhaust, or complete all of something. Who polished the cake off? Who polished off the cake?
See also: off, polish

polish something up

to rub something until it shines. Polish the silver up and make it look nice and shiny. If you will polish up the silver, I will put it away.
See also: polish, up

spit and polish

orderliness; ceremonial precision and orderliness. I like spit and polish. It comes from being in the military. There is no such thing as too much spit and polish.
See also: and, polish, spit

polish off

Finish or dispose of, especially quickly and easily. For example, We polished off the pie in no time, or If everyone helps, we can polish off this job today. This usage, dating from the early 1800s, came from boxing, where it originally meant "to defeat an opponent quickly and easily." By the 1830s it was used more generally.
See also: off, polish

polish the apple

Try to win favor through flattery, as in It may help your standing with the boss if you polish the apple. This expression gave rise to the phrase apple polishing. The idiom alludes to the practice of schoolchildren bringing their teacher the gift of a bright, shiny apple. [c. 1920]
See also: apple, polish

spit and polish

Close attention to appearance and order, as in With a little spit and polish this house will sell very quickly. This expression originated in the military, presumably alluding to literally shining up something with the aid of a little saliva. There it also came to mean "too much attention to appearance, and not enough to more important concerns," as in The commander is so concerned with spit and polish that he overlooks the crew's morale. [Late 1800s]
See also: and, polish, spit

spit and polish

Spit and polish is the process of making a place or person very clean. There is a bit of spit and polish involved. Boots have to be clean and shining.
See also: and, polish, spit

spit and polish

extreme neatness or smartness.
See also: and, polish, spit

spit and ˈpolish

(informal) cleaning and polishing: This table will look as good as new with a bit of spit and polish.
See also: and, polish, spit

polish off

v.
1. To make something clean or shiny: The student polished off the apple and handed it to the teacher. I polished the vase off with a cloth and set it on the table.
2. To eliminate something, such as rust or a stain by rubbing: Please polish that spot off the doorknob. After much scrubbing, I finally polished off the stain.
3. Slang To finish or consume something enthusiastically: I polished off that last piece of cake. After we polish this pizza off, let's get dessert.
See also: off, polish

polish up

v.
1. To make something smooth and shiny by rubbing or chemical action: The jeweler polished up the stones and made them into a necklace. She cleaned the mud off her shoes and polished them up.
2. To improve one's knowledge of something, especially through study and practice: I've been polishing up on my Spanish because I'm going to Mexico. My dancing skills weren't that good, so I took a class to polish them up.
3. To improve or refine something: The mayor tried to polish up his image after the scandal. The manuscript is good, but you need to polish it up if you want it to be published.
See also: polish, up

shoe polish

n. liquor; whiskey; inferior whiskey. The old lush would be delighted to get some of your shoe polish.
See also: polish, shoe

spit and polish

n. orderliness; ceremonial precision and orderliness. (Alludes to carefully polishing shoes to a high level of shine.) I like spit and polish. It comes from being in the military.
See also: and, polish, spit

nail polish on a hangnail

Ugly or useless despite an attractive appearance. This phrase, which is most often heard in “You can put nail polish on a hangnail, but it's still a hangnail,” can be used in all sorts of situations . . . and for all sorts of people.
See also: nail, on, polish
References in periodicals archive ?
What are the key new product launches in the polishes market?
While metal polishes can constitute the highlight of a cleaning promotion, most of your customers will continue buying metal polishes to keep their favorite silver platter and copper pot collections looking fabulous.
To show customers that your metal polishes are as soft as the petals of a flower and tough as steel on stains, include polishing demos.
Since silver is undoubtedly a big part of your bridal business, so should your metal polishes be.
What is the market size of Polishes in Czech Republic?
If you're in the Polishes industry in Algeria, our research will save you time and money while empowering you to make informed, profitable decisions.
The Polishes in Algeria market research report includes:
If you're in the Polishes industry in India, our research will save you time and money while empowering you to make informed, profitable decisions.
Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Polishes industry in South Africa with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
If you're in the Polishes industry in South Africa, our research will save you time and money while empowering you to make informed, profitable decisions.
Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Polishes industry in Ukraine with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
If you're in the Polishes industry in Ukraine, our research will save you time and money while empowering you to make informed, profitable decisions.
Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Polishes industry in Turkey with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
Sales of polishes are expected to decline at a CAGR of 1% at constant 2013 prices over the forecast period.
Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Polishes industry in Malaysia with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.