span(redirected from spans)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
have the attention span of a gnat
To be easily distracted. My son has the attention span of a gnat, I swear. If I tell him to do something, he forgets about it almost instantly! We all have the attention span of gnats after so many years of multitasking.
have the attention span of a mosquito
To be easily distracted. My son has the attention span of a mosquito, I swear. If I tell him to do something, he forgets about it almost instantly! We all have the attention span of mosquitoes after so many years of multitasking.
spick and span
Totally clean and/or organized. I plan to spend the day cleaning so that this place is spick and span when my mother-in-law arrives.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
spick and span
Neat and clean, as in When Ruth has finished cleaning, the whole house is spick and span. This term combines two nouns that are now obsolete, spick, "a nail" or "spike," and span, "a wooden chip." In the 1500s a sailing ship was considered spick and span when every spike and chip was brand-new. The transfer to the current sense took place in the mid-1800s.
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.
spick and spanmainly BRITISH
If a place is spick and span, it is very clean and tidy. Note: `Spick' is sometimes spelled `spic'. Ann was dusting the furniture, making sure her home was spick and span. The facilities were all spick and span. Note: You can also use spick-and-span before a noun. Its bright new buildings already resemble a spic-and-span Japanese car plant. Note: This expression has developed from an old-fashioned expression `spick and span-new', meaning `very new'. `Spick' probably came from a Dutch word meaning `new', and `span-new' meant `completely new'.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
ˌspick and ˈspan(also ˌspic and ˈspan) clean, tidy and fresh: The boss likes everything spick and span in the office.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
spick and span
Neat and clean. This term is made up of two now obsolete words, spick, meaning a spike or nail, and span, meaning a wood chip. In the days of sailing ships, a spick and span ship was one in which every spike or nail and every (wooden) chip was new. The alliterative pairing of the two is very old indeed, although originally the expression meant “brand-new.” It appeared in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives (1579): “They were all in goodly gilt armours, and brave purple cassocks upon them, spicke, and spanne newe.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
spic and span
Neat and clean. A “spick” was a nail (as in “spike”), “span” was a wood shaving, and a new wooden object had shiny spicks in it and fresh spans around it. Over the years the meaning of newness was replaced by that of something fresh and clean (as a new object usually was).
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price