Origin of “Spick and Span”

Welcome to the new Friday posts! Together we’ll explore the origins of various words and phrases as decided by my new Christmas Present, 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings, & Expressions.

For our first word, let us explore the phrase “Spick and Span” meaning really really clean. Like, how clean my mother likes the kitchen (which it hardly ever is) or how clean you’d like to think restaurant kitchens are. Originally, this term simply meant: new. Absolutely and unequivocally fresh and new without having been previously owned or marred. It started with “span-new” around 1300 which basically meant a newly cut spoon, or one that hadn’t been used before. Spick was later added for less clear reasons, possibly in reference to a new cut fork, or splinter, but I think it’s cause it makes for wonderful alliteration…

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