polish

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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 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.

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.

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
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
The pressure P is affected by the type of polishing pad and polishing solution.
KDP crystal's initial surface state is represented by the surface roughness of the crystal before polishing, and an AFM is used for measuring the surface roughness.
If I do this after each polishing session, my wheels are always ready to go the next day so it doesn't slow me down.
The researchers hypothesized that such polishing may protect tooth surfaces against the damage caused by cariogenic bacteria, because the bacteria can be removed easily from such polished surfaces.
Once the particles are collected they are next prepared for polishing, the purpose of which is to establish the necessary take-off angle for analysis.
Furthermore, for automatic operation auxiliary functions are necessary, such as automatic compound feeding, mop wearing compensation, infinite control of contact pressure, compensation of workpiece tolerances, the possibility to adjust the contact wheels, as well as programmed variation of belt grinding and polishing speed.
The procedure in Table 1, with vibratory polishing as the final step, is used in the automated preparation of a variety of cast aluminums.
Get Sample Copy at https://www.marketresearchhub.com/enquiry.php?type=S&repid=2437935 The surface of a metallographic specimen is prepared by various methods of grinding, polishing, and etching.
However, since many industries have to apply porous materials to their polishing processes, bamboo charcoal is in great shortage for industrial applications, which is very unfortunate.
Lombardi, a green tea drinker, learned that makers of hard-disk drives were thirsting for a nontoxic polishing liquid that would cling to ceramic grains and flush them away.
[ClickPress, Fri May 22 2015] In 2014, sales of polishes were dragged down by the consumer preference for multipurpose alternatives to floor polishing as laminate floors do not require polishing and wooden floors are becoming less common.
In all categories, consumers are expected to move towards buying items that do not require polishing or involve the least amount of upkeep.