The process of preening ourselves to look smart, tidy or stylish, has any number of labels. Here are a few.
Since the late 1800s we can get duded up (or dooded/doodied up if preferred). This term came about in the late 1800s from the word dude (city slicker).
The Proto-Indo European word *sleigh- meant to glide smoothly, & gave us the English word slick, which made its way across the pond to America, where one variant came to mean preening oneself to look smart, tidy or stylish -- slicked up.
We can also get spruced up. This idiom seems to have been born of the fancy leather jerkins worn by Prussian soldiers back when the word spruce used to refer to Prussians.
In the early 1800s a fancily dressed individual could be referred to as a spiff, which gave birth to the late 1800s idiom spiffed up.
And since the 1940s we’ve had the term gussied up. Though nobody’s certain of its origins, it may have come from a familiar name for Augustus (Gussie), or from the word gusset.
In the early 1800s when one tidied oneself, the verb tidivate came along (from the word tidy + verb ending -vate). It soon shifted to titivate.
So, next time you need to look fancy, what term will you use for the process of getting there?
My thanks go out to this week’s sources: the OED, Etymonline. Free Dictionary, Merriam Webster, Collins Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, & Wordnik
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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