preliminary or initial work, such as the gathering of data, on which further activity is to be based.

1770–80; spade1 + work Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spadework (ˈspeɪdˌwɜːk)
dull or routine preparatory work

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
And even if you break up terror cells by other means, give public credit to your online spadework.
Economics has long imagined that it can be a successful theoretical science without doing the necessary empirical spadework.
It is ready now, without the spadework necessary elsewhere.
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