to "spit-shine"

Jim Parish jparish at SIUE.EDU
Sun Mar 4 23:19:21 UTC 2007

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> I agree with Wilson that the emphasis in the recent use of "spit shine" is
> on the brilliance of the shine, not on the spit.

For whatever it may be worth: one of the songs on Barry Sadler's
_Green Berets_ album was titled "Garret Trooper". It described a
certain kind of soldier, who talked big and looked good but wasn't the
real deal. In one verse, describing an encounter with such a trooper, he
sings, "Know what I saw when I looked down? A spit-shined boot." This
would be from the mid-to-late sixties. (When did "Ballad of the Green
Berets" come out? 1967?)

Jim Parish

The American Dialect Society -

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