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spadework

[speyd-wurk] /ˈspeɪdˌwɜrk/
noun
1.
preliminary or initial work, such as the gathering of data, on which further activity is to be based.
Origin
1770-1780
1770-80; spade1 + work
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for spade-work

spadework

/ˈspeɪdˌwɜːk/
noun
1.
dull or routine preparatory work
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
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