a sudden, almost overwhelming, outpouring: a spate of angry words.
a flood or inundation.
a river flooding its banks.
a sudden or heavy rainstorm.

1400–50; late Middle English (north) < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spate (speɪt)
1.  a fast flow, rush, or outpouring: a spate of words
2.  chiefly (Brit) a sudden flood: the rivers were in spate
3.  chiefly (Brit) a sudden heavy downpour
[C15 (Northern and Scottish): of unknown origin]

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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Word Origin & History

early 15c., originally Scottish and northern English, "a sudden flood, especially one caused by heavy rains or a snowmelt," of unknown origin. Perhaps from O.Fr. espoit "flood," from Du. spuiten "to flow, spout;" related to spout. Figurative sense of "unusual quantity" is attested from 1610s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It was only the latest in a spate of collapses at the site, which experts say
  is in critical condition.
Thrill seekers who want to take their camera kit along on adventures have a
  spate of products to choose from these days.
With publishers looking to cut costs, gamers have suffered a spate of server
  closures over the last year.
Many of the new spate of pop-econ page-turners reflect the maturation of
  economics as an increasingly empirical science.
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