View synonyms for call a spade a spade

call a spade a spade

  1. To speak directly and bluntly; to avoid euphemism: “The prosecutor said, ‘Let's call a spade a spade. You didn't borrow the money, you stole it.’”

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Idioms and Phrases

Speak frankly and bluntly, be explicit, as in You can always trust Mary to call a spade a spade . This term comes from a Greek saying, call a bowl a bowl , that was mistranslated into Latin by Erasmus and came into English in the 1500s. Also see tell it like it is .


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.