I'm trying to remember a single word that means 'to quickly clean your apartment or house right before someone comes over'.

If I can recall correctly, it starts with an 'S'. I also thought it was along the lines of 'Scuttlebang' or 'Scuttlefunge', but neither come back with anything. Thanks!

  • 1
    Cat lick the apartment.
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 22:50
  • I've heard of give it a cat lick, suggesting something that adjusts the top coat or surface appearance, but I'd most assuredly forgotten it until you reminded me. Something mothers say as they wipe smuts from the faces of their children with a wet tissue. +1
    – John Mack
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


'Scurrifunge' or 'Scurryfunge'

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

scurrifunge ˈscurrifunge, v.dial.
Also scurry-.
[A word of jocular formation, used in various senses with little or no discoverable connexion.]
a. ? trans. To scrub, scour. b. intr. (See quot. 1777.) c. ? To wriggle about.
1777 Horæ Subsecivæ (MS.) in Eng. Dial. Dict., s.v. Scurrifunge, to lash tightly; coïre. 1789 Cowper Let. to Lady Hesketh 6 June, Half a dozen tooth brushes... Two of the brushes abovesaid must be for inside scurryfunging, viz. they must be hooked. 1894 Punch 1 Sept. 102/1 So he scurryfunged around with his stomach on the ground,..And he spied ‘a stag of ten’.

The word has had a bit of a revival lately in the sense that the OP suggested:

Scurryfunge (verb)
sku-ree-fun-j Old English; to rush around cleaning when company is on their way over. Not in use much nowadays but it really should be, I scurryfunge.

Example sentences
“Putting the phone down to my neighbour, I had a quick scurryfunge before she rang the doorbell”

“Whenever my mother-in-law was due for a visit, I’d have to have a scurryfunge no matter how tidy my house was.”

From 'Word of the Day – Scurryfunge' By Shan Williams July 29, 2015. (http://forreadingaddicts.co.uk/word-of-the-day/word-of-the-day-scurryfunge/3166)

The very interesting origins of the word (in Old English and Old Norse) are discussed by EL&U members at length in this post: Is "scurryfunge" a new word?

  • That's it! Thank you so much! I thought I was going to go crazy trying to figure it out!! Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 19:54
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    A completely new word for me! What my mother would have said (northeastern US): "I'll just give it a lick and a promise."
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 20:11
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    @ab2- Yep, I've never heard that either. I would have said, straighten up.
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 20:48
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    i've never heard of this one ... but i like it! might try to start using it.
    – user428517
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 22:33


square away

Put in order; also, get ready for. For example, Once we've got the files squared away, we can decide on next year's repertory, or She had to square away the house before leaving town. This expression uses square in the sense of "arrange in accordance with some principle," indirectly alluding to the geometric square. [Early 1800s] The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms

“He's not wakin' up, Sergeant,” reported Dayton. “Should we call sickbay?” “Why bother? He's just another drunk marine,” retorted the sergeant. “I'll deal with him. Meanwhile, square away this shit, square away your room, then come down to the guard shack for a little chat The Marine of 8th and I

square up

Scot to tidy up Cambridge English Dictionary

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