from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various coniferous evergreen trees of the genus Picea, having flattened or four-angled needlelike leaves, a conic shape, pendulous cones, and soft wood often used for paper pulp.
  • noun Any of various similar or related trees.
  • noun The wood of any of these trees.
  • noun A grayish green to dark greenish black.
  • adjective Neat, trim, and smart in appearance.
  • intransitive verb To make neat and trim.
  • intransitive verb To make oneself neat and smart in appearance.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Smart in dress and appearance; affecting neatness or dapperness, especially in dress; trim; hence often, with a depreciatory force, dandified; smug.
  • Over-fastidious; excessively nice; finical.
  • Synonyms Foppish, etc. (see finical), smart, jaunty, nice, dandyish.
  • noun An abbreviation of spruce-beer.
  • To make spruce; trim or dress so as to present a smart appearance: sometimes followed by up.
  • To brown, as the crust of bread, by heating the oven too much.
  • To become spruce; assume or affect an air of smartness in dress: often followed by up.
  • noun A coniferous tree of the genus Picea; a spruce-fir.
  • noun P. Engelmanni, the most valuable timber-tree of the central Rocky Mountain region, where it forms extensive forests. Its wood is of a white or pale-yellow color, light and soft, in Colorado affording lumber, fuel, and charcoal. The bark is rich in tannin, which is locally utilized.
  • noun P. pungens, a rare and local mountain species of the western United States. Also called blue spruce, Colorado blue spruce.
  • noun Prussian leather. Compare Pruce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) Any coniferous tree of the genus Picea, as the Norway spruce (P. excelsa), and the white and black spruces of America (P. alba and P. nigra), besides several others in the far Northwest. See picea.
  • noun The wood or timber of the spruce tree.
  • noun obsolete Prussia leather; pruce.
  • noun (Bot.) a valuable timber tree (Pseudotsuga Douglasii) of Northwestern America.
  • noun a thick, dark-colored, bitterish, and acidulous liquid made by evaporating a decoction of the young branches of spruce.
  • noun (Bot.) a graceful coniferous tree (Tsuga Canadensis) of North America. Its timber is valuable, and the bark is largely used in tanning leather.
  • noun A kind of beer which is tinctured or flavored with spruce, either by means of the extract or by decoction.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Same as Spruce partridge, below.
  • noun See Spruce, n., 3.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a handsome American grouse (Dendragapus Canadensis) found in Canada and the Northern United States; -- called also Canada grouse.
  • adjective Neat, without elegance or dignity; smart; trim; -- formerly applied to things with a serious meaning; now chiefly applied to persons.
  • adjective obsolete Sprightly; dashing.
  • intransitive verb To dress one's self with affected neatness.
  • transitive verb To dress with affected neatness; to trim; to make spruce; -- often used with up.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of various large coniferous evergreen trees from the genus Picea, found in northern temperate and boreal regions; originally and more fully spruce fir.
  • noun uncountable The wood of a spruce.
  • noun used attributively Made of the wood of the spruce.
  • adjective comparable Smart, trim, and elegant in appearance; fastidious (said of a person).
  • verb To arrange neatly; tidy up.
  • verb ) To make oneself spruce (neat and elegant in appearance).
  • verb To tease.

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

  • noun any coniferous tree of the genus Picea
  • adjective marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
  • verb make neat, smart, or trim
  • verb dress and groom with particular care, as for a special occasion
  • noun light soft moderately strong wood of spruce trees; used especially for timbers and millwork


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

[Short for obsolete Spruce fir, Prussian fir, from Middle English Spruce, Prussia, alteration of Pruce from Anglo-Norman Pruz, from Medieval Latin Prussia.]

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

[Perhaps from obsolete spruce leather, Prussian leather, from Middle English Spruce, Prussia; see spruce.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, an alteration of Pruce ("Prussia"). Spruce, spruse (1412), and Sprws (1378) were terms for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants (beer, wood, leather). The tree with this name was also believed to have been native to Prussia. The adjective and verb senses ("trim, neat" and "to make trim, neat") are attested from 1594, and originate with spruce leather (1466), which was used to make a popular style of jerkins in the 1400s that was considered smart-looking.


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  • The "black" or "double spruce" (_Pinus nigra_), is that species from the twigs of which is extracted the essence that gives its peculiar flavour to the well-known "_spruce beer_."

    The Young Voyageurs Boy Hunters in the North Mayne Reid 1850

  • Such is the bacillus Thurigiensis which is currently under investigation and may well prove to be an effective agent against the budworm disease in spruce, which is at present devastating some of our eastern forests.

    Of Microbes, Man and Survival 1975

  • Prussia, which we call spruce, and Norway (especially from Gottenberg) and about Riga, are the best; unless we had more commerce of them from our Plantations in New England, which are preferable to any of them; there lying rotting at present at Pascataway, a mast of such prodigious dimensions, as no body will adventure to ship, and bring away.

    Sylva, Vol. 1 (of 2) Or A Discourse of Forest Trees John Evelyn 1663

  • Often called the "People's Tree," this year's tree is an 85-foot blue spruce from the two million-acre Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona.

    Capitol Christmas tree arrives on the Hill 2009

  • Often called the "People's Tree," this year's tree is an 85-foot blue spruce from the two million-acre Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona.

    Chelsea Clinton to marry 2009

  • The spruce trees and Scotch fir were our stronghold, and it was in spruce thickets we made our hiding-places by day.

    Three Times and Out: A Canadian Boy's Experience in Germany Nellie L. McClung 1918

  • Conifers predominate in the forests of Canada, and amongst those conifers spruce is by far the most abundant growth.

    The Forest Wealth of Canada 1907

  • The hemlock spruce is a very common tree in this part of the country, and an imposing evergreen, ranking in height with the tallest oaks, and ashes, and elms of the forest.

    Rural Hours 1887

  • Governor Chafee's solution to call the spruce in the State House a "Holiday Tree" has elicited howls of outrage from citizens complaining of the secularization of this Christian holiday.

    Jeffrey Small: The Origins Of Christmas Jeffrey Small 2011

  • The next day, as we come down Eighth Street at dusk, with shop lights casting color on the hard-packed snow, she impulsively buys a small fat spruce from the Italian with the truck.

    In the Fullness of Time Emily W. Upham 2010


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  • According to one theory, the word "spruce" may be a borrowing from a Polish expression "drzewo/drewno z Prus": "tree/timber from Prussia", in which case the initial s- would be derived from the Slavic preposition s/z, "from".

    August 9, 2011

  • I'm working on a comment about Roland Barthes, women's clothing, and lumberjacks, but I think I'll need learn French before I can understand my own joke.

    August 9, 2011