There are 2 main definitions of spade in English:

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spade1

Line breaks: spade
Pronunciation: /speɪd
 
/

noun

1A tool with a sharp-edged, typically rectangular, metal blade and a long handle, used for digging or cutting earth, sand, turf, etc.
Example sentences
  • What may be a surprise is that the bottom of your foot hurts, bruised from stepping on the hard metal of the spade or fork repeatedly.
  • The traditional square blade of a spade may derive from its historical use as a tool to cut peat, sod or soft garden soil, none of which provide much resistance to the blade.
  • Armed with their metal detectors, spades and uncontrollable imaginations the assembled horde scattered to all corners of the field in search of treasure.
1.1A tool shaped like a spade but used for another purpose, especially one for removing the blubber from a whale.
1.2 [as modifier] Shaped like a spade: a spade bit
More example sentences
  • The spade bit, when used properly, works well on acrylic.
  • To drill counter-mounted faucet holes, use an electric drill and an appropriately sized hole saw or spade bit.
  • Use a sharp spade bit to bore a 1-inch diameter hole through each end of every floorboard you have to replace.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1Dig over (ground) with a spade: while spading the soil, I think of the flowers
More example sentences
  • We have also tried our roller on a wheat cover crop before planting soybeans, but it had little effect on the small weeds in the wheat and we ended up spading that ground before planting the soybeans.
  • In the spring she spaded a garden, but the carrots bent as if they'd hit metal and slugs tattered the lettuce.
  • He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work.
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Move (soil) with a spade: earth is spaded into the grave
More example sentences
  • Dressed in yellow jackets, trousers and rubber boots, visitors can find excitement in spading gold-bearing sand and gravel into a metal pail.
  • ‘We propped up one end of the screen on a wheelbarrow and spaded the plants, compost and all, up onto the frame,’ she says.

Origin

Old English spadu, spada, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch spade, German Spaten, also to Greek spathē 'blade, paddle'.

More
  • A spade for digging is related to Greek spathē ‘blade or paddle’ and has been in the language since Anglo-Saxon times, while the spade that appears on a playing card dates from the 16th century. The latter is based on Italian spada ‘a broad-bladed sword’, though the design (a black upside-down heart shape with a stalk) looks more like a pointed spade than a sword. To call a spade a spade, ‘to speak plainly, without avoiding unpleasant or embarrassing issues’, dates from the mid 16th century. In The Importance of Being Earnest ( 1895), Oscar Wilde has the nicely brought up Miss Gwendolen Fairfax respond to this: ‘I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade’. A tongue-in-cheek variation, dating from the early 20th century, is call a spade a shovel. In spades means ‘to a very high degree’, or ‘as much as or more than could be desired’, and comes from the card game bridge, in which spades are the highest-ranking suit.

Phrases

call a spade a spade

1
Speak plainly without avoiding unpleasant or embarrassing issues: it is time to name names and call a spade a spade
More example sentences
  • After a while, we started to talk and I began to like him, because he's funny and he's straightforward and he calls a spade a spade.
  • And the president should not be criticized for being a straight shooter and calling a spade a spade.
  • So at one level this is an issue of clarity; the simple business of calling a spade a spade.

Derivatives

spadeful

1
noun (plural spadefuls)
Example sentences
  • Choose an open, sunny spot with a moisture-retentive, well-drained soil and dig over the earth to remove all weeds before adding a few spadefuls of organic matter.
  • Short removes two spadefuls of sand and black, viscous oil slowly begins to fill the new pit.
  • This hypothesis crumbled at the first spadeful below the topsoil.

Definition of spade in:

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There are 2 main definitions of spade in English:

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spade2

Line breaks: spade
Pronunciation: /speɪd
 
/

noun

1 (spades) One of the four suits in a conventional pack of playing cards, denoted by a black inverted heart-shaped figure with a small stalk.
Example sentences
  • Because of the difference in score, clubs and diamonds are called the minor suits and hearts and spades are the major suits.
  • Normally, a standard deck's 52 cards are divided equally among four suits: spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts.
  • If your pack of cards has no joker, the two of spades can be used as a substitute.
1.1 (a spade) A card of the suit of spades.
Example sentences
  • The trump maker leads a spade which player A wins with the ace, becoming the first partner.
  • The trumps are a suit of their own for suit following purposes - for example, in a normal game, the queen of spades is a trump, not a spade.
  • The player to dealer's left leads any card except a spade to the first trick.
2 informal , offensive A black person.

Origin

late 16th century: from Italian spade, plural of spada 'sword', via Latin from Greek spathē; compare with spade1.

More
  • A spade for digging is related to Greek spathē ‘blade or paddle’ and has been in the language since Anglo-Saxon times, while the spade that appears on a playing card dates from the 16th century. The latter is based on Italian spada ‘a broad-bladed sword’, though the design (a black upside-down heart shape with a stalk) looks more like a pointed spade than a sword. To call a spade a spade, ‘to speak plainly, without avoiding unpleasant or embarrassing issues’, dates from the mid 16th century. In The Importance of Being Earnest ( 1895), Oscar Wilde has the nicely brought up Miss Gwendolen Fairfax respond to this: ‘I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade’. A tongue-in-cheek variation, dating from the early 20th century, is call a spade a shovel. In spades means ‘to a very high degree’, or ‘as much as or more than could be desired’, and comes from the card game bridge, in which spades are the highest-ranking suit.

Phrases

in spades

1
informal To a very high degree: he got his revenge now in spades
More example sentences
  • Shaw's staff thought the world of him, and their loyalty was repaid in spades.
  • Realize that whatever you do to me, I'm likely to do to you in spades.
  • Needless to say, to successfully achieve such remarkable feats required all four of the above virtues in spades.

Definition of spade in:

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