from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make smooth and shiny by rubbing or chemical action.
  • transitive v. To remove the outer layers from (grains of rice) by rotation in drums.
  • transitive v. To free from coarseness; refine: polish one's manners.
  • transitive v. To remove flaws from; perfect or complete: polish one's piano technique; polish up the lyrics.
  • intransitive v. To become smooth or shiny by or as if by being rubbed.
  • intransitive v. To become perfect or refined.
  • n. Smoothness or shininess of surface or finish.
  • n. A substance containing chemical agents or abrasive particles and applied to smooth or shine a surface: shoe polish.
  • n. The act or process of polishing.
  • n. Elegance of style or manners; refinement.
  • polish off Informal To finish or dispose of quickly and easily.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A substance used to polish.
  • n. Cleanliness; smoothness, shininess.
  • n. Refinement; cleanliness in performance or presentation.
  • v. To shine; to make a surface very smooth or shiny by rubbing, cleaning, or grinding.
  • v. To refine; remove imperfections from.
  • v. To apply shoe polish to shoes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A smooth, glossy surface, usually produced by friction; a gloss or luster.
  • n. Anything used to produce a gloss.
  • n. Fig.: Refinement; elegance of manners.
  • intransitive v. To become smooth, as from friction; to receive a gloss; to take a smooth and glossy surface.
  • transitive v. To make smooth and glossy, usually by friction; to burnish; to overspread with luster
  • transitive v. Hence, to refine; to wear off the rudeness, coarseness, or rusticity of; to make elegant and polite.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make smooth and glossy, as a surface of marble, wood, etc., whether by rubbing or by coating with varnish, etc., or in both ways.
  • Figuratively, to render smooth, regular, uniform, etc.; remove roughness, inelegance, etc., from; especially, to make elegant and polite.
  • To beat; chastise; punish.
  • Synonyms To burnish, furbish, brighten, rub up.
  • To civilize.
  • To become smooth; receive a gloss; take a smooth and glossy surface.
  • Figuratively, to become smooth, regular, uniform, elegant, or polite.
  • Pertaining to Poland, a country of Europe, or to its inhabitants.
  • n. The language of the Poles.
  • n. Same as Polish checkers.
  • n. A highly ornamental breed of the domestic hen, characterized especially by the large globular crest, and in most varieties having also a full muff or beard.
  • n. Smoothness of surface, produced either by friction or by the application of some varnish, or by both means combined.
  • n. A substance used to give smoothness or to help in giving smoothness to any surface. See French polish, varnish-polish, etc., below.
  • n. Smoothness; regularity; elegance; refinement; especially, elegance of style or manners.
  • n. A liquid application prepared by dissolving gum-shellac in alcohol, or an imitation of this. It is applied with a sponge or rag, and the surface is then rubbed very thoroughly, the operation being usually repeated two or three times.
  • n. The paste by which such a polish is produced.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. bring to a highly developed, finished, or refined state
  • n. a preparation used in polishing
  • v. make (a surface) shine
  • n. the Slavic language of Poland
  • v. improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
  • n. a highly developed state of perfection; having a flawless or impeccable quality
  • adj. of or relating to Poland or its people or culture
  • n. the property of being smooth and shiny


Middle English polisshen, from Old French polir, poliss-, from Latin polīre.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin polire ("to polish, make smooth"). (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Named after the infamous Felix Dzerzhinsky (Dzierżyński).

    June 11, 2009

  • Reasons why I like Polish, number something in a series: Dzierżyńszczyzna was a Polish autonomous region of the Byelorussian S.S.R. in 1932-8.

    June 11, 2009

  • I was standing in line (or is that on line?) in a hardware store once and saw a sign for Polish Remover. I remember thinking, "Oh boy, someone's going to be offended."

    November 22, 2007

  • Polish sausage; shoe polish.

    November 22, 2007