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Spic and span vs spick and span

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  • Spic and Span is the brand name of a cleaning product. While the spelling spic and span existed before the product, advertising has caused many people to popularize this spelling. The preferred spelling for this English phrase is spick and span.

    Spick and span is a phrase used as an adjective to mean extremely clean, spotless, freshly scrubbed. Spick and span may be hyphenated, as in spick-and-span. Either spelling is correct.

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    Spick and span is a phrase which dates to the sixteenth century, when it originally  referred to a brand new ship. Spick refers to a nail or spike, span comes from a Norse word meaning wood chip. Therefore, a ship that was spick and span new was a ship that was new down to the last nail and wood chip.

    Example

    Producers will probably need a few days to run around with a hoover and a wetvac to get the house spic and span for its new celebrity housemates, which means the celebrity version should launch at some point in the next week. (The Mirror)

    The Petrenko case exposed the nasty dark underside that belies the spic-and span German façade. (The Jerusalem Post)

    Everything needed to look great all the time, which was also why light bulbs under Disney were replaced when they had reached about 80% of their life. No dim bulbs here. Spick-and-span. (The Los Angeles Times)

    To you, a house is perfectly kept only when it is spick and span with everything in its place; to your teenager, a room spells attitude only when it’s messy and unkempt.  (The Hindustan Times)

    P&G Professional offers complete solutions utilizing its parent company’s scale, trusted brands and strengths in market and consumer understanding. P&G Professional features such brands as Dawn®, Mr. Clean®, Comet®, Spic and Span®, Bounty®, Safeguard®, Febreze®, Swiffer®, Tide®, and its own brand, P&G Pro Line®.  (Marketwatch)

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