verb (used with object), spad·ed, spad·ing.
- in the extreme; positively: He's a hypocrite, in spades.
- without restraint; outspokenly: I told him what I thought, in spades.
Origin of spade1
Related Words for in spadesterribly, distinctly, downright, clearly, positively, really, determinedly, unmistakably, emphatically, absolutely, bloody, powerful, real, right, strongly, sure, surely, decisively, terrifically, unequivocally
- an object or part resembling a spade in shape
- (as modifier)a spade beard
Word Origin for spade
- the black symbol on a playing card resembling a heart-shaped leaf with a stem
- a card with one or more of these symbols or (when pl) the suit of cards so marked, usually the highest ranking of the four
Word Origin for spade
"tool for digging," Old English spadu, from Proto-Germanic *spadon (cf. Old Frisian spada, Middle Dutch spade, Old Saxon spado, Middle Low German spade, German Spaten), from PIE *spe- "long, flat piece of wood" (cf. Greek spathe "wooden blade, paddle," Old English spon "chip of wood, splinter," Old Norse spann "shingle, chip").
To call a spade a spade "use blunt language, call things by right names" (1540s) translates a Greek proverb (known to Lucian), ten skaphen skaphen legein "to call a bowl a bowl," but Erasmus mistook Greek skaphe "trough, bowl" for a derivative of the stem of skaptein "to dig," and the mistake has stuck.
"figure on playing cards," 1590s, probably from Italian spade, plural of spada "sword, spade," from Latin spatha "broad, flat weapon or tool," from Greek spathe "broad blade" (see spade (n.1)). Phrase in spades "in abundance" first recorded 1929 (Damon Runyon), probably from bridge, where spades are the highest-ranking suit.
The invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes. [O.Henry, "Cabbages & Kings," 1904]
Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol.
Considerably, in the extreme; also, without restraint. For example, They were having money problems, in spades, or Jan told him what he really thought of him, in spades. This expression alludes to spades as the highest-ranking suit in various card games, such as bridge, and transfers “highest” to other extremes. [Colloquial; 1920s]
see call a spade a spade; do the spadework; in spades.