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[speyt] /speɪt/
a sudden, almost overwhelming, outpouring:
a spate of angry words.
  1. a flood or inundation.
  2. a river flooding its banks.
  3. a sudden or heavy rainstorm.
Origin of spate
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English (north) < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His joy welled up and overflowed in him as overflows a river in time of spate.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • A look from spate silenced him, but the President had not caught the slip.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • spate could rise to an emergency; the other committeemen thanked him with their eyes.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • "Not but what Wakefield is enterprising," spate added, anxiously.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • It was about the first day of October, and we had enjoyed a “spate.”

    Angling Sketches Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for spate


a fast flow, rush, or outpouring: a spate of words
(mainly Brit) a sudden flood: the rivers were in spate
(mainly Brit) a sudden heavy downpour
Word Origin
C15 (Northern and Scottish): of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spate

early 15c., originally Scottish and northern English, "a sudden flood, especially one caused by heavy rains or a snowmelt," of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French espoit "flood," from Dutch spuiten "to flow, spout;" related to spout. Figurative sense of "unusual quantity" is attested from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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