polish


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apple-polisher

A flatterer. (Apples are a typical gift for teachers.) That kid is always quick to help the teacher with any little thing—what an apple polisher!

nail polish on a hangnail

Some superficial or cosmetic change to something so that it seems more attractive, appealing, or successful than it really is. The only thing the new manager has come up with to save the restaurant has been to make a few repairs and slap a fresh coat on the restaurant, but putting a bit of nail polish on a hangnail doesn't fix the hangnail. The new bells and whistles of their latest operating system is just nail polish on a hangnail, if you ask me. It's still just as buggy and unintuitive as the last one they released.
See also: nail, on, polish

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

polish off

To consume, dispose of, or finish all of something very quickly or easily. A noun or pronoun can be used between "polish" and "off." 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

Polish parliament

A chaotic, unproductive gathering of government officials. In Poland's parliament, all members used to have veto power, which would result in frequent disruptions and little action. A: "Were they able to get anything done in the assembly?" B: "No, it was a real Polish parliament with few calm moments of debate."
See also: polish

polish the apple

To attempt to curry favor through insincere or excessive flattery or praise. An allusion to the clichéd image of a student presenting their teacher with a gift of a shiny red apple to instill a good impression. Brian is always polishing the apple with the boss, and for what—some vague, vain hope of a promotion or raise?
See also: apple, polish

polish up

1. Literally, to smoothen or shine something through the use of forceful rubbing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "polish" and "up." I'll need to polish up my shoes before John and Sarah's wedding tomorrow. Our rings are a bit tarnished—would you mind polishing them up for us?
2. To improve or refresh one's knowledge about or ability to do something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "polish" and "up." I've been polishing my Japanese up before I go to Tokyo next month. I need to polish up on factorials before attempting to teach them on Monday.
3. To improve or refresh one's knowledge about or ability to do something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "polish" and "up." I've been polishing my Japanese up before I go to Tokyo next month. I need to polish up on factorials before attempting to teach them on Monday.
4. To improve or refine the appearance something. I've been hearing rumors that there are going to be company-wide layoffs soon. Better start polishing up my résumé. We need to polish up this old house before any prospective buyers get here.
See also: polish, up

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 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

you can't polish a turd

proverb 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

apple-polisher

Fig. a flatterer. Doesn't that wimpy apple-polisher know how stupid he looks? Everybody at my office seems to be an apple-polisher but me.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

spit and polish

extreme neatness or smartness.
See also: and, polish, spit
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

apple-polisher

n. a flatterer. Everybody at the office seems to be an apple-polisher but me.

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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

spit and polish

Great care for a spotless and smart appearance. The term originated in the armed services, where spit might literally be used for a hasty cleaning for an unexpected inspection. The term also came to mean more attention to appearances than to actual working order or efficiency, so that by World War I, “Spit and polish! We’re winning the war,” was a sarcastic expression applied by those in the front lines to the concerns of career officers sitting behind desks in the war office.
See also: and, polish, spit
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
He noted that contacts have already been established between Baku Textile Factory and Polish partners, and the export of Azerbaijani textiles to this European country is expected in the medium term.
Polish nationals are now the largest minority in the UK, estimated at 984,000.
After the parade President Duda and Polish representatives attended a service at the memorial garden in Camp Butmir to honor the Polish soldiers who have lost their lives whilst serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The director-general of the Polish Office in Taipei, Maciej Gaca, hopes Taiwanese audiences will enjoy the films, and would like for the film festival to become an annual event in Taiwan, reports CNA.
'I always recommend to my patients that it's best to leave polish on for a few weeks on, and then remove the polish and go without for a few weeks.
Michal Dworczyk, an aide to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, described the video as an affront to the thousands of Poles who risked their lives during the war to help Jews.
Germany's long-running struggle against its domestic Polish nationalists had given it a bad reputation in Russian Poland that was difficult to overcome; heavy German requisitions of food and raw materials further alienated the population.
To apply to glitzy coating, first, paint the nails with a base coat of clear polish. Next, apply a shiny and reflective topcoat to achieve the mirror-like effect.
Yes, if you remove all existing finish, highly polish the bare metal, degrease and reblue.
Jozef Pilarski was one of the first Poles to settle in Hudders-field after the Second World War and was instrumental in setting up the Polish church in the town.
Which begs the question: Is your supposedly healthy 5-free nail polish still putting your health at risk?
It's time to dress up your nails with the perfect nail polish shades for the holidays, including gold, red, silver, white, pink and jewel tones.
Abu Dhabi: A 3,000-strong Polish community in the UAE is getting larger as Poland-UAE diplomatic relations grow stronger, a top Polish diplomat said.
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