AskDefine | Define spruce

Dictionary Definition

spruce adj : marked by smartness in dress and manners; "a dapper young man"; "a jaunty red hat" [syn: dapper, dashing, jaunty, natty, raffish, rakish, smart, spiffy, snappy]


1 light soft moderately strong wood of spruce trees; used especially for timbers and millwork
2 any coniferous tree of the genus Picea


1 make neat, smart, or trim; "Spruce up your house for Spring"; "titivate the child" [syn: spruce up, titivate, tittivate, smarten up, slick up, spiff up]
2 dress and groom with particular care, as for a special occasion; "He spruced up for the party" [syn: spruce up, slick up, smarten up]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Spruce



From an alteration of Pruce ("Prussia"); Spruce, spruse (1412), and Sprws (1378) were generic terms for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants (beer, wood, leather). The tree with this name was also believed to have been native to Prussia. The adjective and verb senses ("trim, neat" and "to make trim, neat") are attested from 1594, and originate with spruce leather (1466), which was used to make a popular style of jerkins in the 1400s that was considered smart-looking.



  1. Any of various large coniferous evergreen trees from the genus Picea, found in northern temperate and boreal regions; originally and more fully spruce fir.
  2. The wood of a spruce.


tree from the genus Picea
wood of a spruce


  1. Made of the wood from a spruce.
  2. Smart, trim, and elegant in appearance; fastidious (said of a person).


made of the wood from a spruce
smart and elegant


  1. (usually with up) to arrange neatly; tidy up
  2. (usually with up) to make oneself spruce (neat and elegant in appearance)
  3. to tease

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

Spruce refers to trees of the genus Picea, a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from 20–60 (–95) m tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical form. The needles, or leaves, of spruce trees are attached singly to the branches in a spiral fashion, each needle on a small peg-like structure called a sterigmata. The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained sterigmata (an easy means of distinguishing them from other similar genera, where the branches are fairly smooth).
Spruces are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on spruces. They are also used as food plants by Gall Adelgids (Adelges species).
The word "spruce" derives from an obsolete term for Prussia.
Scientists have found a cluster of Norway Spruce in the mountains in western Sweden which, at an age of 9,550 years, is the world's oldest known living trees.


1 Cones with thickish scales; leaves quadrangular in cross-section: section Picea
1a Cones with (mostly) pointed scales; leaves blunt or somewhat pointed
1b Cones with smoothly rounded scales; leaves blunt or somewhat pointed
1c Cones with smoothly rounded scales; leaves viciously sharp-pointed
2 Cones with thickish wavy scales, leaves slightly to strongly flattened: section Omorika
2a Cones mostly with rounded scales; leaves flattened in section, white below
2b Cones mostly with wavy scales; leaves slightly flattened in section, often paler below
3 Cones with very thin, wavy scales: section Casicta


Spruce is one of the most important woods for paper manufacture, as it has long wood fibres which bind together to make strong paper. Spruces are cultivated over vast areas for this purpose.
Spruces are also popular ornamental trees in horticulture, admired for their evergreen, symmetrical narrow-conic growth habit. For the same reason, some (particularly Picea abies and P. omorika) are also extensively used as Christmas trees.
Spruce wood, often called whitewood, is used for many purposes, ranging from general construction work and crates to highly specialised uses in wooden aircraft and many musical instruments, including guitars, mandolins, cellos, violins, and the soundboard at the heart of a piano. The Wright Brothers first aircraft was built of spruce.
The resin was used in the manufacture of pitch in the past (before the use of petrochemicals); the scientific name Picea is generally thought to be derived from Latin pix, pitch (though other etymologies have been suggested).
The leaves and branches, or the essential oils, can be used to brew spruce beer. The tips from the needles can be used to make spruce tip syrup. It can also be made into a tea which has approx 8 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.
Native Americans in eastern North America once used the thin, pliable roots of some species for weaving baskets and for sewing together pieces of birch bark for canoes. See also Kiidk'yaas for an unusual golden Sitka Spruce sacred to the Haida people. Native Americans in New England also used the sap to make a gum which was used for various reasons.
In survival situations spruce needles can be directly ingested or boiled into a tea. This replaces large amounts of vitamin C. Water is also stored in a spruces needles providing an alternative means of hydration. Spruce can be used as a preventative measure for scurvy in an environment where meat is the only prominent food source.
Spruce branches are also used at Aintree racecourse, Liverpool, to build several of the fences on the Grand National course.


External links

spruce in Belarusian: Елка
spruce in Bosnian: Smrča
spruce in Bulgarian: Смърч
spruce in Chuvash: Чăрăш (йывăç)
spruce in Czech: Smrk
spruce in Danish: Gran-slægten
spruce in German: Fichten
spruce in Estonian: Kuusk
spruce in Spanish: Picea
spruce in Esperanto: Piceo
spruce in French: Épicéa
spruce in Italian: Picea
spruce in Hebrew: אשוחית
spruce in Lithuanian: Eglė
spruce in Dutch: Spar
spruce in Japanese: トウヒ属
spruce in Norwegian: Graner
spruce in Norwegian Nynorsk: Granslekta
spruce in Polish: Świerk
spruce in Portuguese: Picea
spruce in Romanian: Picea
spruce in Russian: Ель
spruce in Slovenian: Smreka
spruce in Serbian: Смрча
spruce in Finnish: Kuuset
spruce in Swedish: Gransläktet
spruce in Turkish: Ladin
spruce in Ukrainian: Ялина
spruce in Walloon: Epiceya

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

anal, bandbox, bowdlerized, braw, chic, classy, clean up, cleaned, cleaned up, cleansed, clothes-conscious, cosmopolitan, dapper, dashing, dinky, doggy, dressed to advantage, dressed to kill, dressed up, elegant, en grande tenue, endimanche, expurgated, exquisite, genteel, gussied up, in full dress, in full feather, in high feather, in tails, jaunty, modish, natty, neat, nifty, nobby, posh, primp, purged, purified, recherche, refined, reformed, ritzy, sassy, sharp, shipshape, sleek, slick, slicked up, smart, smarten up, smug, snazzy, snug, soigne, soignee, sophisticated, spiffy, spruce up, straighten out, straighten up, style-conscious, stylish, swank, swanky, swell, tidy, tidy up, tight, titivate, tricksy, trig, trim, well turned-out, well-cared-for, well-dressed, well-groomed
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