Main meanings of polish in English

: polish1Polish2


Pronunciation /ˈpɒlɪʃ/

See synonyms for polish

Translate polish into Spanish


[with object]
  • 1Make the surface of (something) smooth and shiny by rubbing it.

    ‘behind the bar the steward polished glasses busily’
    • ‘A housekeeper polishes a glass cabinet displaying delicate mementos from Norway and New Zealand.’
    • ‘The ends of the cork stoppers are then polished to present a smooth surface to the wine.’
    • ‘A woman in a grey smock goes round polishing each glass cover after it's been kissed.’
    • ‘The doctor took off his glasses and polished them.’
    • ‘A white-bearded old man removed his glasses and polished them on his coat.’
    • ‘She removed her glasses and began to polish them on her sleeve.’
    • ‘Roy's head is looking extra shiny after John polished it for him earlier.’
    • ‘She frowned and began once more to polish it with round rubbing strokes.’
    • ‘Don't polish the silver too brightly or remove the fluff too diligently from your freshly starched soft furnishings.’
    • ‘We can also just polish the silver and brighten a room.’
    • ‘To reiterate, you need to dust the shelves, polish any wooden surfaces and shine the glass and mirrors, clean the floor and tidy up to some extent.’
    • ‘It was raining when I arrived and the traffic had been busy so I was only just on time, I hurried into the chapel area, took a seat near the back and started to polish the raindrops from my glasses.’
    • ‘Before we were done the innkeeper came out once again and took up a post by his bar, needlessly polishing his mugs.’
    • ‘We must cut off the zips, buttons and collars to leave the material smooth enough to be used as a rag to polish cars.’
    • ‘Generally speaking, he will polish the surface and make it smooth if the subject is a young female.’
    • ‘When Anna arrived in the servant's quarters, she found Manuel shining and polishing a knife.’
    • ‘In the stables, hands fed and watered the horses, and groomed their white coats until they shone, and polished the tack until they see dull reflections in the leather.’
    • ‘‘I like my glasses,’ I said, taking them off to polish them with the hem of my shirt.’
    • ‘The surface can always be polished to shine, but with time the sparkle fades.’
    • ‘It peels off without any residue, but as I usually do, you may want to polish it up with some rubbing alcohol.’
    shine, wax, buff, rub up, rub down
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Improve, refine, or add the finishing touches to.
      ‘after you and your editor have polished the manuscript, the copyeditors read it’
      • ‘he's got to polish up his French for his job’
      • ‘So now it's the adults' turn to polish up their singing, dancing, recitation and music playing skills in time for the Senior Scor competition in February.’
      • ‘Once the boat lift is open you'll be desperate to get in on the fantastic sailing and canoeing opportunities it opens up and who better to help you polish up your technique than Monster Activities.’
      • ‘Locally, you might polish up your work for the Alexandra Writers' Centre Society FreeFall Fiction and Poetry Contest.’
      • ‘Perhaps the Democratic Underground should get Tim to polish up some of their conspiracy theories for them sometime.’
      • ‘We know he has always loved the art of campaigning, and he seems to be relishing this opportunity to sell a ton of books and also to polish up his legacy.’
      • ‘I quite liked them - if that's not too damning with faint praise. My only real comment would be that they perhaps needed to polish up their stage act a bit.’
      • ‘I really thank Ben for helping out and getting Ivan to polish up his guitar skills, teaching Charissa her first few chords.’
      • ‘We have eight weeks to polish up our voices and learn the songs.’
      • ‘More than 170 heads of state are expected to attend the meeting, which was intended to polish up the UN's image.’
      • ‘The acts will be able to polish up their routines on mats and screens which provide dancers with steps to follow while playing a particular song.’
      • ‘But it seems that almost everyone who wants to polish up their tarnished images wants to be associated with the cause.’
      • ‘As his fourth season in charge reaches the point of no return, he must inspire his side to polish up their reputation once again.’
      • ‘That will be the annual salary for the new executive needed to polish up Southampton's public relations.’
      • ‘So forgive me if I polish up the script of this interview a little by removing some of the most rambling parts.’
      • ‘The thing I really regret is not being able to polish up a wittier answer to those who do care to ask what happened.’
      • ‘‘For being an agent you really need to polish up on your lying skills,’ Nathan teased as he entered the hall.’
      • ‘Absolutely no effort was made to restore the worst-preserved episodes or to polish up even the most glaring video deficiencies.’
      • ‘Your student even gets to polish up on his finger snaps!’
      • ‘I feel you would have a first-class high-selling novel if you could polish up the story in the areas I've mentioned.’
      • ‘Most of us can't afford sub-editors or proof-readers to polish our prose and buff up our banter.’
      perfect, refine, improve, hone, embellish, enhance, put the final touches to, put the finishing touches to
      View synonyms


mass noun
  • 1A substance used to give something a smooth and shiny surface when rubbed in.

    ‘a tin of shoe polish’
    • ‘Disguise scratches in your wood furniture with shoe polish, crayon or felt tip markers.’
    • ‘The 49-year-old first had the idea for the invention when his mother, who suffered from arthritis, told him she was having trouble opening a tin of shoe polish.’
    • ‘He wore a serviceable but plain jerkin over a woolen shirt that was warm and comfortable but darned in two places, and his boots could have used a shinier coat of polish.’
    • ‘Or is there another more suitable substance, something along the lines of shoe polish?’
    • ‘And in his place I get a kid so shiny and new he almost smells of furniture polish.’
    • ‘Small dents and abrasions can be disguised by rubbing a little brown boot polish into them, followed by some traditional furniture polish.’
    • ‘Because the dead cat was unfortunately black, however, while the only live one they can find is an orange tabby, they try a quick dye job with shoe polish.’
    • ‘Marlene uses black tea for furniture polish to great effect.’
    • ‘Beeswax is used to make a variety of items, including candles, hair foods, creams, shoe polish and lipsticks.’
    • ‘She gave him a sweater the color of oxblood shoe polish.’
    • ‘We went up to them and they were all drinking furniture polish, or at least some chemical that had something to do with furniture.’
    • ‘The chemical is normally used for industrial purposes in solvents, petrol and shoe polish and is banned in food.’
    • ‘We felt so grown up to be given this task, we bought shoe polish and other items when I saw a small red cast-iron train.’
    • ‘Part of me has been used in the manufacture of books, glue, shoe polish and marshmallow.’
    • ‘Do you think he'd notice if I sprayed a bit of furniture polish around and kept the lighting low?’
    • ‘Additionally too much polish may discolor the surface.’
    • ‘I looked at it, and thought that it looked like an oil-painting; and that its scent was like lemon furniture polish.’
    • ‘That didn't last for long though, because it looked too stupid and it would take days for the shoe polish to come off.’
    • ‘And now because of her stalling, she only got a couple strips of bacon in her stomach before her mother dragged her to the large sink in the laundry room, armed with the bottle of shoe polish.’
    • ‘Or would one of them claim it tasted of peanut butter and elderberries while the other detected hints of shoe polish and rainbow trout?’
    wax, varnish, glaze, lacquer, enamel, japan, shellac
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1in singular An act of rubbing something to give it a shiny surface.
      ‘I could give the wardrobe a polish’
      • ‘The underside of the panelled floor can be painted any colour, and the glass is sandblasted for a raised texture and given an acid polish for a shiny non-slip surface.’
      • ‘I've even been damp dusting rather than just a quick polish but it's barely touching the surface.’
      • ‘The heat burnishes the surface, creating a look different from a wet polish.’
      • ‘Softer limestone is not dense enough to withstand a full polish and like sandstone is left with a subtle honed surface.’
      • ‘With that he escorted Jones to a hotel, insisted on paying the bill and when he drove his cousin back to the airfield next morning the autogyro had been filled with fuel - and given a polish.’
      • ‘Watch for terms such as ‘clarity enhanced’, as this means the diamond has been artificially altered, not given an extra polish.’
      • ‘The army of artisans have gone and all that remains to do before the public unveiling of a perfect 18 th-century time capsule is a quick polish of the family busts.’
      • ‘Given to all the promises of improved handling, bigger crashes and a better structure, it certainly feels like it's had enough of a polish to live up to its claims.’
      • ‘I gave my spectacles a final polish, dumped the tissue in the waste bin I call my side pocket, and started back home to the sound of Schubert in the player.’
      • ‘After giving their treasured vehicles a final polish, the drivers joined the parade to the delight of spectators of all ages.’
      • ‘He has the sense to wear a nice suit in a dark navy wool but matches it with terrible, cheap loafers with a metal bar across the instep that are in desperate need of a polish and a reheel.’
      • ‘Today it sits collecting dust and is in serious need of a polish.’
      • ‘Sculptor Jonathan Clarke took her back to his workshop in Bury St Edmunds for a polish, which was scheduled to take six weeks.’
      • ‘They need either some paint or varnish and, what brass handles remain, certainly need a good polish.’
      • ‘At that point, Brother Francis removed his glasses and gave them a vigorous polish, a sure sign that we were approaching the theological nub of the lesson.’
      • ‘I would be very surprised if at year's end Caroline didn't take her crystal ball in for a polish - I think our captain is primed for 2003.’
      • ‘As any matelot will confirm, to get a good polish, a little spit and a lot of elbow grease go along way, so let's see if Combet and Burrows can for once lead by example’
      • ‘Next, the sights are installed and a final polish is done to blend all the edges, such as fitting the back of the extractor and ejector flush with the slide.’
    2. 1.2Smoothness or glossiness produced by rubbing or friction.
      ‘the machine refines the shape of the stone and gives it polish’
      • ‘A high degree of polish is achieved when the shaping plywood forms are faced with smooth plastic and the concrete is vibrated as it is being poured in place.’
      • ‘The floors sparkled with polish, as did the freshly cleaned windows and chandelier.’
      • ‘Grace holds herself up with her hand against the floor, which has acquired a bright sheen of polish.’
      shine, gloss, lustre, sheen, sparkle, patina, finish, smoothness
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Refinement or elegance in a person or thing.
      ‘his poetry has clarity and polish’
      • ‘We are so covered with layers and layers of refinement, of social polish, of airs and graces and civilization and pretensions that the human in us almost ceases to exist.’
      • ‘He soon made a strong impression in Germany as a brilliant and original conductor, who achieved great polish and refinement in his performances.’
      • ‘That sign is to remind them that if they don't behave with polish and refinement at all times, they'll be punished.’
      • ‘This year's refinement and polish should keep it at the top.’
      • ‘This meant that in his search for a new language to express himself he was obliged to break existing artistic conventions, which required an elegance and polish that stifled all feelings.’
      • ‘Martin blends the elegance, grace, and polish of a confident professional with the spirited excitement of an emerging star.’
      • ‘The artwork, attractively printed in blue ink on an off-white ground, has polish and clarity.’
      • ‘But its polish and refined gameplay make up for what it lacks in innovation, and render it one of the best light gun games ever.’
      • ‘He projected the music with clarity and polish, with details gaining expression through a sweet resilient tone.’
      • ‘Those harsh wartime experiences deeply affected her playing - reviewers noted it had lost its polish and finesse - and she resolved to regain it.’
      • ‘It is primarily entertainment that Lee delivers with enough polish and style to keep you involved until the closing scene.’
      • ‘Shot entirely in Alberta - mostly around the Peace River area - on a moderate budget, the film is devoid of glamour or polish.’
      • ‘Pamper yourself a little, and experiment with new ideas that will add glamour or polish to your very own Christmas wrapping.’
      • ‘These artists added sophisticated polish to country music, facilitating its popularity among middle-class audiences.’
      • ‘All poets write poems with varying degrees of polish, and for most poets, the unfinished poems are exactly that: not finished.’
      • ‘The service is big on smiles, but low on polish - our initial order for mineral water is completely bungled.’
      • ‘If most of what you know of German quality and polish is lardy-voice car commercials, then the truth of the place comes as a pleasant surprise.’
      • ‘Audiences and potential clients have become more sophisticated, demanding a higher degree of polish and professionalism.’
      • ‘It adds a degree of polish and when used carefully, makes life more enjoyable for those around you.’
      • ‘The Galliard Ensemble plays with sparkle, polish and a good deal of panache.’
      sophistication, refinement, urbanity, suavity, suaveness, elegance, style, grace, finish, accomplishment, finesse, subtlety, distinction, taste, cultivation, culture, politeness, civility, gentility, breeding, courtesy, courteousness, manners, good manners
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

    polish off
    • polish something off, polish off somethingQuickly finish or consume something.

      ‘they polished off most of the sausages’
      • ‘Desserts of chocolate cake and hyper-decadent peach meringue sundae were quickly polished off, followed a fine selection of Isle of Mull cheeses and coffee.’
      • ‘Both were polished off quickly and when the bill came for the food (drinks are paid for separately), it was only £11.’
      • ‘Squid rings and the latter were the choices to start, and were polished off really quickly, despite there being only five of us.’
      • ‘Those, along with the bread and cheeses, were quickly polished off.’
      • ‘I remember polishing off my rusks, knocking back my baby milk and jumping down from my high chair to assist.’
      • ‘The mussels were huge and plentiful, and I gladly helped my wife finish off the plate after having polished off my own dish.’
      • ‘So Antoine polishes off his first drink, calls her on his cell, and listens to her repeat she's coming, she's coming.’
      • ‘He tried as best as he could to ignore her glance as he swallowed and polished off his scramble eggs in record time.’
      • ‘I remember everyone drunkenly singing along to the chorus as the grizzly old bar manager brought up a half empty keg for us to polish off.’
      • ‘At one diplomatic dinner in the mid-1990s, British officials watched in fascination as he consumed vast quantities of food, polishing off course after course with greedy relish.’


Middle English from Old French poliss-, lengthened stem of polir ‘to polish’, from Latin polire.

Main meanings of Polish in English

: polish1Polish2


Pronunciation /ˈpəʊlɪʃ/

See synonyms for Polish

Translate Polish into Spanish


  • Relating to Poland, its inhabitants, or their language.

    ‘The most difficult discussions centred on the Polish government and Poland's frontiers.’
    • ‘Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution by the Polish premier.’
    • ‘He was born in 1926, in the Czech mill town of Ostrava, an afternoon's walk from the Polish border.’
    • ‘It delves into the life of a Polish hairdresser who is dumped by his wife.’
    • ‘On Saturday night I attended a concert at the Polish club in Park South.’
    • ‘John joined the Polish resistance movement during the Second World War.’
    • ‘His mother was a schoolteacher, and his dad Joe, a Polish refugee who settled in Scotland after the war, was a miner.’
    • ‘When in Australia last week, I re-visited a Polish friend who restores frames in a Sydney gallery.’
    • ‘But he does not explore the culpability of the Polish leaders who decided to launch the insurgency.’
    • ‘If you would really like to see Polish history and culture, visit the university city of Krakow.’
    • ‘The sensation of chilled vodka on your tongue is the perfect way to start a meal of traditional Polish food.’
    • ‘There are stuffed deer and buffalo on the walls, an ancient grand piano, and bubbly Polish receptionists.’
    • ‘The five million Germans who lived there were evicted and their property was handed over to the Polish government.’
    • ‘The parliamentary investigative commission has proved to be a test of Polish democracy.’
    • ‘The Polish president said he'd lead a battle against the type of racism that led to the Holocaust.’
    • ‘Maria was already there, one of 135 Polish girls and women transported from Warsaw in a single day.’
    • ‘Each time they tried to get the invalid out, a gang of mostly Polish neighbours would fight them off.’
    • ‘Polish authorities also said there were 17 Polish citizens unaccounted for in London.’
    • ‘Who would have thought a little urchin from a Polish ghetto would become a leading scientist?’
    • ‘I discovered that the three young people were members of the Polish community in Tuam.’


mass noun
  • The Western Slavic language of Poland, spoken by more than 40 million people.

    ‘Cornell brought in a Polish women who said that the medium did in fact speak Polish.’
    • ‘He escaped only because he was allowed to make a phone call and was able to alert his wife by speaking in his native Polish.’
    • ‘If you don't speak Polish, click on the Union Jack icon at the top left for details in English.’
    • ‘In a burst of Polish translated by her husband, Zofia says she likes it better than Poland.’
    • ‘It was a French version of a volume he originally published in Polish in 1931 and quickly became a classic.’
    • ‘By lunchtime, she could introduce herself in Polish, and the children could do likewise in German.’
    • ‘It provides some blurry information, but not much: the script of the few captions is tiny, and in Polish.’
    • ‘Listeners to the station heard shots and then an announcement in Polish that it was time for the Poles to attack Germany.’
    • ‘The full statement of the Polish cabinet is available here, in Polish.’
    • ‘It would be nice to have a book discussing Lem's works in Polish which are out of reach for readers in English.’
    • ‘The couple talked loudly in Polish at each other, across my field of vision, and I felt invaded.’
    • ‘It was written in his native Polish and translated by the Vatican into Italian.’
    • ‘It could be dubbed into Polish or Mongolian and you'd still be able to identify it as a product of Paris.’
    • ‘How much of this was due to his Polish and how much to his own curious outlook on the world one cannot say.’
    • ‘One is a pocket guide to the fishes of the world, but I have just finished The Old Man and the Sea in Polish and need no more fish this week.’