- a tool for digging, having an iron blade adapted for pressing into the ground with the foot and a long handle commonly with a grip or crosspiece at the top, and with the blade usually narrower and flatter than that of a shovel.
- some implement, piece, or part resembling this.
- a sharp projection on the bottom of a gun trail, designed to dig into the earth to restrict backward movement of the carriage during recoil.
- to dig, cut, or remove with a spade (sometimes followed by up): Let's spade up the garden and plant some flowers.
- call a spade a spade, to call something by its real name; be candidly explicit; speak plainly or bluntly: To call a spade a spade, he's a crook.
- in spades, Informal.
- in the extreme; positively: He's a hypocrite, in spades.
- without restraint; outspokenly: I told him what I thought, in spades.
Origin of spade1
- a black figure shaped like an inverted heart and with a short stem at the cusp opposite the point, used on playing cards.
- a card of the suit bearing such figures.
- (used with a singular or plural verb)the suit so marked: Spades is trump. Spades count double.
- (used with a plural verb)Casino.the winning of seven spades or more.
- Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.
Origin of spade2
Examples from the Web for spades
Beyoncé certainly delivers it in spades, too—and effortlessly.Bow Down, Bitches: How Beyoncé Turned an Elevator Brawl Into a Perfect Year
December 31, 2014
If laughter is the best medicine, The Comeback made you feel enough pain to need a dose—and then it delivered in spades.‘The Comeback’ Finale: Give Lisa Kudrow All of the Awards
December 29, 2014
Bayonetta may not always be fully-clothed, but she delivers in spades.Bayonetta Is Nintendo’s Graphic, Ass-Kicking Barbie
October 24, 2014
The second he does, her giggle sends the Queen of Spades cascading to the brown tile floor below.Hallucinating Away a Heroin Addiction
May 4, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a needle in his arm and envelopes of heroin stamped with an Ace of Spades logo.Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly ‘Ace of Spades' Heroin
February 3, 2014
Exactly, you can give half of 'em cards and spades and both casinos, Mrs. Wybert.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
That they were spades at all was more than I could make out.Ireland as It Is
Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
He had clubs and spades solid, with doubleton heart and diamonds.
All day long Bishop and Max have managed to give me the queen of spades.
Here fell the gallant Captain Cailloux, black as the ace of spades.
- a tool for digging, typically consisting of a flat rectangular steel blade attached to a long wooden handle
- an object or part resembling a spade in shape
- (as modifier)a spade beard
- a heavy metallic projection attached to the trail of a gun carriage that embeds itself into the ground and so reduces recoil
- a type of oar blade that is comparatively broad and shortCompare spoon (def. 6)
- a cutting tool for stripping the blubber from a whale or skin from a carcass
- call a spade a spade to speak plainly and frankly
- (tr) to use a spade on
- 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
- a derogatory word for Black
- in spades informal in an extreme or emphatic way
Word Origin and History for spades
"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.
Idioms and Phrases with spades
see call a spade a spade; do the spadework; in spades.