One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Make minor enhancements to.‘she slapped on her warpaint and titivated her hair’
groom, tidy, arrange, brush, comb, smooth, smarten, smarten up, spruce up, freshen, freshen up, beautify, pretty, preen, primp, prink, prink upView synonyms
- ‘Wigs for the dolls are imported ready styled, but of course they can be titivated to suit and the long wigs can be plaited.’
- ‘She started titivating, moving the furniture slightly, adjusting the curtains.’
- ‘In the meantime, the review, a fine piece, primps and titivates my fancy, in much the same way that a sorbet readies the palate before the main course arrives.’
- ‘If we're recovering furniture, go for a sensible (no, it's not a dirty word) hard-wearing fabric and titivate the look with cushions.’
- ‘It was nice to get home in the daylight, and have time to titivate the garden before tea.’
- 1.1titivate oneself Make oneself look smart.‘he was titivating himself, slicking his hair and freshening his breath’no object ‘Grace had titivated in the bathroom’
have a wash, wash oneself, bathe, showerView synonyms
- ‘Then on the Saturday night I went to bed very early as I knew realistically I needed to get up at 6am to allow time to titivate myself to get down to Selfridges on time.’
- ‘In this discussion, attempt is devoted to discern the political symbolism he should now titivate himself with in the light of fulfilling the presidential rite of passage.’
- ‘Given that, at Christmas, the world is full of beautiful women titivating themselves, I think my malaise is understandable.’
- ‘Eventually it would have notes, photos, and cards wedged into its frame to keep me company while I titivated myself before the show.’
- ‘I need to go upstairs and titivate myself before hard-working husband's return.’
The verbs titillate and titivate sound alike but do not have the same meaning. Titillate, a far commoner word, means ‘stimulate or excite’, as in the press are paid to titillate the public. Titivate, on the other hand, means ‘adorn or smarten up’, as in she titivated her hair
Early 19th century (in early use, also as tidivate): perhaps from tidy, on the pattern of cultivate.
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