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

1400–50; late Middle English (north) < ? Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for spate

string, deluge, wave, outpouring, flood, flurry, succession, torrent, rush, run

Examples from the Web for spate

Contemporary Examples of spate

Historical Examples of spate

  • 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 outpouringa spate of words
mainly British a sudden floodthe rivers were in spate
mainly British a sudden heavy downpour

Word Origin for spate

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

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