What is the difference between "neat and tidy" and "spick and span"?

Expert Answers
dftbap eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I disagree with the above answer.  Although there is some room for speculation, "neat and tidy" involves the arrangement of things and "spick and span" involves the condition of things. 

When I hear the terms "neat and tidy" I think of products like closet organizers and storage bins.  These are containers used to put things in their places and puts things out of view in order for a room not to be considered "cluttered." 

On the other hand, when I hear the terms "spick and span," I think of Mr. Clean and Bounty and the numerous other cleaning chemicals and cloths that allow a housewife from the 1950s to procure a spotless home for her husband.

Further, I would like to suggest that both of these word sets declare a kind of 1950s mentality about cleanliness (as in, "next to Godliness") that we are beginning to value less in our society which now smiles upon days such as "Casual Fridays."  I would suggest this antiquated delineation is the reason why these words aren't used in the frequency that they were used a half a century ago.

a0542959 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

     Actually, the two phrases mean pretty much the same thing in today's standard English. Neat and tidy often refers to a room/car/home. I.E. "That place is neat and tidy". Often people use the term spick and span for the same thing.

      However, spick and span used to mean something that is new. When I think of spick and span I think of someone's remodeled kitchen or brand new car--in that instance, it's "spick and span", shiny, clean, and fairly unused, whereas neat and tidy can refer to something older that has just been recleaned.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question