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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 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 something

also polish something off
to finish something quickly and easily He polished off two burgers and a mountain of French fries. He was nearly finished with the report, and said he could polish it off in another hour or two.
Usage notes: most often used about eating something: He polished off entire pizzas.
See also: off, polish

spit and polish

cleaning and rubbing All it needed was a bit of spit and polish and we got it looking as good as new.
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

polish off

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

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 ?
The next day, take an old piece of a junk barrel and do a bit of polishing on it first.
In dry polishing, a series of grinding steps are employed to flatten the floor and remove the top layer of the concrete.
To test his theory, Lu conducted a series of polishing experiments on one of the burial axes.
If the particles are embedded with adhesive residue they may move during grinding and polishing.
In working with aluminum alloys, a napless, hard woven, synthetic acetate polishing cloth also yields excellent control of flatness and relief.
The world's most advanced concrete polishing company, Polished Solution provides nationwide service and has unwavering commitment to superior quality and customer service.
Tests now indicate that the fluid performs as well as a conventional polishing liquid, yet acts more quickly.
I've never heard of polishing furniture with SPAM," said Charles.
The Epic D100 pad represents what we believe is a major breakthrough in CMP polishing pad technology.
Polishing gun metal -- This is just one of many unusual metal polishing ideas.
Since 1997, Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials has been the global market source of Klebosol[R] slurries; the most widely used colloidal silica products for CMP polishing.
After inquiring with the store manager as to who was responsible for the highly shined floor, they returned to call Perfect Polish, a Concrete Polishing Technologies, Inc.
The factory pre-polished fiber stub endface eliminates time-consuming field polishing to reduce installation costs, labor, scrap and the number of tools required.
CMP is a process for polishing and smoothing uneven surfaces of wafers (silicon oxide layer, interlayer insulation film, wiring metal layer, etc.