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See also: spick and span


Alternative forms[edit]


Originally from “new as new woodchips”

From spick-and-span-new (literally new as a recently made spike and chip of wood) (1570s), from spick (nail, variant of spike) + Middle English span-new (very new) (from circa 1300 until 1800s), from Old Norse span-nyr, from spann (chip) (cognate to Old English spón, English spoon, due to spoons' once being made of wood) + nyr (new) (cognate to Old English nīewe, English new).[1] Imitation of Dutch spiksplinternieuw (literally spike-splinter new)[2], for a freshly built ship. Observe that fresh woodchips are firm and light (if from light wood), but decay and darken rapidly, hence the origin of the term.


  • (file)


spick-and-span (comparative more spick-and-span, superlative most spick-and-span)

  1. (idiomatic) Clean, spotless; original sense “like new”.
    I mopped up the kitchen floor so it was spick-and-span.
    • 1614, Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, Act 3 Scene 5 Lines 42-44:
      NIGHTINGALE (showing one of his ballads) Sir this is a spell against 'em, spick and span new, and 'tis made, as 'twere, in mine own person, and I sing it in mine own defense.
    • 1643 John Taylor, A preter-pluperfect, spick and span new nocturnall, or Mercuries weekly night-newes, Wherein the publique Faith is published, and the Banquet of Oxford Mice described (title)
    • 1665, Samuel Pepys, diary, 15 November 1665:
      My Lady Batten walking through the dirty lane with new spicke and span white shoes.
    • 1942 March, “Notes and News: Locomotive Notes”, in Railway Magazine, page 93:
      The "V4" 2-6-2 Bantam Cock is now stationed at Norwich, and its spick-and-span condition does credit to the cleaners at that shed.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “spick-and-span”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ The term "spickspelder nieuwe deuntjes" was used to refer to "brand-new tunes" in a Dutch songbook published in 1630.

Further reading[edit]