One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A widespread coniferous tree which has a distinctive conical shape and hanging cones, widely grown for timber, pulp, and Christmas trees.
Genus Picea, family Pinaceae: many species
- ‘‘I wanted my husband to plant a big spruce so that at Christmas I could decorate it with lights,’ she says.’
- ‘This nest is usually in a spruce or other conifer and may be 4'40 feet up.’
- ‘Before planting either your boxwood or dwarf spruce, select containers that will accommodate these evergreen shrubs up to their mature size.’
- ‘Although most species of spruce prefer moist, well drained soils with moderate to good fertility, they will grow on rather sandy soils if there is a favorable water table throughout the growing season.’
- ‘The best trees to plant with wildlife in mind are cherry and mulberry for their fruits, pines and spruces for their seed-bearing cones and deciduous trees that vary in size and density.’
- ‘There are few more rewarding experiences than driving a team of huskies through this vast land of mountains, spruce forests and endless silence.’
Late Middle English (denoting Prussia or something originating in Prussia): alteration of obsolete Pruce ‘Prussia’. The application to the tree dates from the early 17th century.
Neat in dress and appearance.‘Angela was a very spruce and tidy person’
neat, well groomed, well turned out, well dressed, besuited, smart, trim, dapper, elegant, chicView synonyms
- ‘Just further down the lane were three tiny cottages which always looked spruce in this quiet backwater and their small gardens were bright with flowers.’
- ‘A very spruce maid welcomed him and showed him into the Bishop's drawing-room.’
- ‘The track looked sprucer than it has for a long time, " said one Silverstone old timer.’
- ‘The actor looks much too spruce for someone who is living rough.’
- ‘To turn up at County Hall looking dapper and spruce would have been to strike a false, jarring note of misplaced optimism.’
- ‘The place has also recently been restored and so is looking quite spruce.’
- ‘‘Why are they doing this work so early in the morning?’ she asked Captain Duro when he appeared on deck looking as spruce and polished as he had on the first day she met him.’
- ‘In outward appearance, he was a cherubically round man, about 45, in a spruce pinstripe suit and a new blue tie.’
- ‘These are the most recently refurbished rooms at the Rubens, so décor is sprucer and fresher than elsewhere in the hotel.’
verb[with object]spruce someone/something up
Make someone or something smarter or tidier.‘the fund will be used to spruce up historic buildings’
smarten up, make smarter, tidy up, make tidy, make neater, neaten up, put in order, clean upgroom oneself, tidy oneself, smarten oneself up, freshen oneself up, preen oneself, primp oneself, prink oneself, pretty oneself, beautify oneselfView synonyms
- ‘Part of the money will be spent on sprucing up areas used by the public, including car parks, picnic sites and paths.’
- ‘There is no dress code, but as always we spruce ourselves up for the occasion in our best suits.’
- ‘The capital, Palermo, is also being spruced up with EU millions.’
- ‘As a result property developers are moving slowly away from the attractive shore area, sprucing up arterial routes better known for their less-than - salubrious surroundings.’
- ‘I've had a haircut to spruce myself up before my sis shows up tomorrow.’
- ‘A new plan has been put together to clean up road and railway bridges and shopping centres as part of the council's Street Force initiative to spruce up the city.’
- ‘The council has adopted a 12-month strategy aimed at sprucing up the city's streets.’
- ‘Replaceable headrest covers were introduced on the company's trains last year as part of a scheme to spruce up the carriages.’
- ‘The city centre has been spruced up in recent years, although to look at the grimy exteriors you wouldn't know it.’
- ‘A further £200,000 will be spent sprucing up the city's war memorials and a plaque will be put up by the Cenotaph - listing, for the first time, soldiers killed on active duty since the Second World War.’
- ‘Since taking over two years ago he has attracted more subscribers and spruced up the marketing campaign.’
- ‘The £10m that he will make from the sale will go towards sprucing up his eight other theatres which include the London Palladium and The Adelphi.’
- ‘Before the bidding begins, the house will be transformed by a team of designers who will spruce it up and restore some of its 1930s features.’
- ‘The existing factory buildings have been spruced up to house exhibition, workshop and office spaces.’
- ‘The money will be used to spruce up the towns, create jobs and improve transport, as well as providing similar help to surrounding villages.’
- ‘Within just a few weeks, York businesses have raised £150,000 towards the initiative to spruce up the city.’
- ‘The 72-year-old's mission to spruce up Warrington Cemetery, where 50,000 people are buried, has been given a £3,000 award from Help the Aged.’
- ‘Twenty minutes later I saw him looking all spruced up, chirpy and chipper sporting a gold earring in front of me at the Sainsbury check-out.’
- ‘The company relocated 21 of its smallest stores to bigger outlets in the year and spruced up 135 other shops in a refurbishment programme.’
- ‘Spring is here too, traditionally the time when house owners look to spruce up their homes as the days lengthen and the light improves.’
Late 16th century: perhaps from spruce in the obsolete sense ‘Prussian’, in the phrase spruce (leather) jerkin.
1Engage in pretence or deception, especially by feigning illness.‘he's no fool; he'd have known if she was sprucing’
- 1.1with object Deceive.‘they spruced you proper’
- 1.1with object Deceive.
Early 20th century: of unknown origin.
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