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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for spate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He dropped his hold on Lelas and stood looking across at Yanni a minute, while new life ran in spate through his veins.

    The Vintage Edward Frederic Benson
  • I nodded, still marvelling over this spate of speech at table.

  • He sprang down into the road, shouting what sounded like a spate of curses in the patois.

  • "Hazr, it is a spate from the hills," he said between quick breaths.

  • So off he set, wi' the rain teeming down all the time, and the beck getting higher and higher wi' the spate.

    More Tales of the Ridings Frederic Moorman
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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