"spiffy" and "spiffing"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jan 29 21:56:45 UTC 2010

The OED has "spiffy" back to 1853; "spiffing" back to 1872, with
similar senses (esp. for appearance).

"Spiffy" I've heard in the U.S.  Is "spiffing" a British "-ing" -ism,
as I assume "ripping" (and others?) are?

I've always favored "gussied up" -- back to 1952 in the OED -- but
that's because my mother's appellation was "Gussie".


At 1/29/2010 04:28 PM, Bill Palmer wrote:
>"Spiffy" is, inter alia, the brand name (or maybe former brand name, now) of
>a type of wire stay, used to keep collar points of military shirts properly
>turned down.
>And, to me, born 1941, lived all over, reared in VA, a very common adjective
>for looking neat, clean, well dressed.
>I have never hear "spiff" without "up"...as in "You'd better spiff up your
>room, if you want to go out tonite"
>Bill Palmer
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Judy Prince" <jbalizsprince at GOOGLEMAIL.COM>
>Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 3:46 PM
>Subject: "spiffy" and "spiffing"
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>>Poster:       Judy Prince <jbalizsprince at GOOGLEMAIL.COM>
>>Subject:      "spiffy" and "spiffing"
>>Robin (a Scot living in England) has read in (usually) novels about
>>schools, the word "spiffing".
>>I, a USAmerican, have never read or heard "spiffing", but have often
>>read/heard/said "spiffy".
>>Robin says that "spiffing" is definitely literary.  He has never heard it
>>spoken, but has read it in novels for adolescent girls and boys, school
>>My experience with "spiffy" is that it was said by my parents, and is said
>>by me and my contemporaries [born in the 1940s].
>>Any examples, theories, histories from listmembers?
>>Frisky Moll Press:  http://judithprince.com/home.html
>>"I can't read my library card."  ---Jeff Hecker, Norfolk, VA
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