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apple-pie order Excellent or perfect order. The phrase may seem “as American as apple pie,” but its origin is British, and murky. The OED’s first citation is from Sir Walter Scott in 1813. Some theorize the expression derived from the French cap-à-pie Trom head to foot’; others see it as a corruption of the French nappes pliées ‘folded linen.’ The story that it gained popularity in the United States because of the systematic and orderly arrangement of apple slices in pies baked by New England women is at least as amusing as the others are credible.
clean as a whistle Very clean; completely clean; also clear or dry as a whistle. This proverbial simile, which dates from the 1780s, is said to have derived from the fact that a whistle must be clean and dry in order to produce a sweet, pure sound.
shipshape In good order, trim, tidy. The original nautical term meant fully rigged or ship-rigged, as opposed to temporarily or jury-rigged. The word often appears in the full phrase all shipshape and Bristol fashion, dating from the days when ships of Bristol, famous for its maritime trade, were held in high regard. An entry under “Bristol fashion and shipshape” in Smyth’s Sailor’s Word-book (1867) reads:
Said when Bristol was in its palmy commercial days … and its shipping was all in proper good order.
spick and span Spotlessly clean, neat and tidy; a shortened form of the expression spick and span new meaning ‘completely brand-new.’ Although the exact origin of the expression is unknown, it has a possible connection with span ‘a chip or piece of wood’ and the obsolete meaning of spick ‘spikenail.’ Thus, a brand-new ship would have all new spicks and spans. According to the OED the longer expression first appeared in the late 1500s, while the abbreviated term more popular today came into use about 1665. It would seem that in dropping the new from the expression the emphasis shifted from newness itself to those qualities usually associated with new things such as freshness, cleanliness, tidiness, and neatness.
spit and polish Meticulous attention given to tidiness, orderliness, and a smart, well-groomed appearance. This expression found its first widespread use in the armed forces, where it alluded to the common custom of spitting on a shoe or other leather item and buffing it to a high polish. While the phrase retains its military application, it now carries the suggestion of extreme fastidiousness in maintaining a sharp, scrubbed, disciplined appearance.
To lessen the time spent in spit and polish to the detriment of real cavalry work. (United Service Magazine, December, 1898)
|Noun||1.||neatness - the state of being neat and smart and trim|
tidiness - the habit of being tidy
|2.||neatness - the trait of being neat and orderly|
cleanliness - diligence in keeping clean