spitting image, the

spitting image

A precise resemblance, especially in closely related persons. For example, Dirk is the spitting image of his grandfather. This idiom alludes to the earlier use of the noun spit for "likeness," in turn probably derived from an old proverb, "as like as one as if he had been spit out of his mouth" (c. 1400). The current idiom dates from about 1900.
See also: image, spit

the spitting image

If you say that one person is the spitting image of another, you mean that the first person looks exactly like the second. He is the spitting image of his father. Now Nina looks the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Note: People occasionally use the spit and image or the dead spit to mean the same thing. Six-month-old Caleb is the spit and image of his daddy. He was handsome — the dead spit of Tikhonov, the film actor. Note: The origin of this expression is uncertain, but it may have developed from `spirit and image'. If one person was the spirit and image of another, they were alike both in character and physical appearance.
See also: image, spit

spitting image, the

An exact resemblance, usually said of parent and child or other close relatives. This term comes from the earlier spit and image, which, since spit meant “likeness,” was redundant. Nevertheless, it was widely used from the late nineteenth century on, and by the mid-twentieth century, probably through mispronunciation or misspelling, was converted to the current cliché.
See also: spit