Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To make decorative additions to; spruce up.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make small improvements or alterations to (one's appearance etc.); to add some finishing touches to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • v. To dress or smarten up; to spruce.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To dress or spruce up; get or put into good trim; smarten, or smarten one's self.

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

  • v. make neat, smart, or trim

Etymologies

Alteration of earlier tidivate : perhaps tidy + (ele)vate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Modification of earlier spelling tidivate, perhaps based on tidy + -vate, on the pattern of words like cultivate and renovate. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word titivate apparently was derived from tidy with a quasi-Latin suffix added.

    Word Fugitives

  • The ball was a neat little matter of fifty-five miles away, across country, so she had to start tolerably early, of course, in order to have comfortable time to "titivate," as Pip expressed it.

    Seven Little Australians

  • Chelsea bores her, so she takes a private jet to Cannes, gets Katie Price's hairdresser to titivate her, hires a table in a VVIP room for £20k, then strops off home after 20 minutes as someone appears in the room who's not to her suiting.

    Tamara Ecclestone: Billion $$ Girl – Grace Dent's TV OD

  • If they had any sense, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, on whose northern border this is, would buy it off him, titivate it a bit, and open it as a nineteenth-century museum.

    Portobello

  • Let me go down and settle whilst you call in your black man and titivate a bit.

    The Virginians

  • Every day the order would go out to 'titivate the ship,' which meant to 'spruce it up or make it neat and orderly.'

    Word Fugitives

  • From beside the Long Water in the last of the pale sunlight, she came out into Marylebone, and bethought herself that before she went to the Foreign Office she must go where she could titivate.

    Maid in Waiting

  • But Cai -- on his way upstairs to titivate -- perceived that the lamp was lit and the cloth spread in his own parlour; and, as he noted this with a vague surprise, encountered Mrs Bowldler.

    Hocken and Hunken

  • You titivate yourself, and we'll dine at the Savoy, or anywhere you please.

    Tales of the Five Towns

  • They said that when he saw the shearers coming he'd say, "Run and titivate yourself, Mary; here comes the shearers!"

    Children of the Bush

Comments

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  • *sigh* ... Chaplin...

    October 12, 2009

  • "In The Idle Class, when Chaplin is titivating in a hotel room, the cloth on his dressing table rides up and down, caught in the same furious gusts."
    - Peter Conrad, 'Modern Times, Modern Places'.

    October 8, 2009

  • "On this calm, sunny day the ships all had their ports open to air the lower decks, and behind these ports he saw the guns, row after row of guns, with seamen titivating them."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 256

    February 14, 2008