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Thread: Licks and spits

  1. #1
    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Licks and spits

    What does "licks and spits" mean? It looks like a set phrase but in internet it is impossible to find anything but porn.

    Original sentence: "it (old tower) was given a few licks and spits in the 19th and 20th centuries."
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    I am guessing, but a more common saying is to spit shine boots - http://www.google.co.uz/url?sa=t&rct...43287494,d.bGE

    In this context I think that it would mean some minor renovations were done, like washing or painting, or at least something that made it look a little better.

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Thanx!

    I assume you are a native English speaker despite of the geography.

    So no set phrase, licks are separate from spits and overall it means "to polish".
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  4. #4
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    I don't recall a set phrase like this. "spruce up" perhaps? What kind of a tower is it?

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    I'm originally from Near Chicago. Polish is towards boots, but in this context I would agree with Seraph to say it is meant to spruce up or clean, just to make it look better.

  6. #6
    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Thank you. It is about La Rocca in San Marino. Text is from Lonely Planet.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    I assume that the literal reference is to a mother spitting into a handkerchief in order to wipe some dirt from a child's face. Obviously, it's better to use water, but if there's no water, spit is better than nothing.

    So, figuratively, it means not only a "minor renovation," but perhaps a "hardly sufficient renovation (that was just slightly better than nothing at all)".

    I've never heard the specific phrase "licks and spits," but there's a similar phrase "to give a lick and a promise", as in "The boy gave his hair a lick and a promise." (Meaning: He used spit to smooth his hair down, and "promised" to comb it or wash it properly in the future.)

    P.S. In US military slang, at least, "to spit-shine" (in reference to shoes/boots) actually means to give the footwear a very thorough, high-quality, professional-looking, mirror-like polish -- whereas "licks and spits" and "lick and a promise" imply a quick and superficial attempt to make something look better. So they're rather opposite.
    Yulia65 likes this.

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Aha, so "to lick" can mean also "to wash with a saliva", not only "to touch with a tongue". That is new to me and makes things more intuitive.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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