in spades


1 [speyd]
a tool for digging, having an iron blade adapted for pressing into the ground with the foot and a long handle commonly with a grip or crosspiece at the top, and with the blade usually narrower and flatter than that of a shovel.
some implement, piece, or part resembling this.
a sharp projection on the bottom of a gun trail, designed to dig into the earth to restrict backward movement of the carriage during recoil.
verb (used with object), spaded, spading.
to dig, cut, or remove with a spade (sometimes followed by up ): Let's spade up the garden and plant some flowers.
call a spade a spade, to call something by its real name; be candidly explicit; speak plainly or bluntly: To call a spade a spade, he's a crook.
in spades, Informal.
in the extreme; positively: He's a hypocrite, in spades.
without restraint; outspokenly: I told him what I thought, in spades.

before 900; Middle English (noun); Old English spadu; cognate with Dutch spade, German Spaten, Old Norse spathi spade, Greek spáthē broad, flat piece of wood

spadelike, adjective
spader, noun
unspaded, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
spade1 (speɪd)
1.  a tool for digging, typically consisting of a flat rectangular steel blade attached to a long wooden handle
2.  a.  an object or part resembling a spade in shape
 b.  (as modifier): a spade beard
3.  a heavy metallic projection attached to the trail of a gun carriage that embeds itself into the ground and so reduces recoil
4.  Compare spoon a type of oar blade that is comparatively broad and short
5.  a cutting tool for stripping the blubber from a whale or skin from a carcass
6.  call a spade a spade to speak plainly and frankly
7.  (tr) to use a spade on
[Old English spadu; related to Old Norse spathi, Old High German spato, Greek spathē blade]

spade2 (speɪd)
1.  a.  the black symbol on a playing card resembling a heart-shaped leaf with a stem
 b.  a card with one or more of these symbols or (when pl) the suit of cards so marked, usually the highest ranking of the four
2.  a derogatory word for Black
3.  informal in spades in an extreme or emphatic way
[C16: from Italian spada sword, used as an emblem on playing cards, from Latin spatha, from Greek spathē blade, broadsword]

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

"tool for digging," O.E. spadu, from P.Gmc. *spadon (cf. O.Fris. spada, M.Du. spade, O.S. spado, M.L.G. spade, Ger. Spaten), from PIE *spe- "long, flat piece of wood" (cf. Gk. spathe "wooden blade, paddle," O.E. spon "chip of wood, splinter," O.N. spann "shingle, chip"). To call a spade a spade "use
blunt language" (1542) translates a Gk. proverb (known to Lucian), ten skaphen skaphen legein "to call a bowl a bowl," but Erasmus mistook Gk. skaphe "trough, bowl" for a derivative of the stem of skaptein "to dig," and the mistake has stuck.

"figure on playing cards," 1598, probably from It. spade, pl. of spada "sword, spade," from L. spatha "broad, flat weapon or tool," from Gk. spathe "broad blade" (see spade (1)). Phrase in spades "in abundance" first recorded 1929 (Damon Runyon), probably from bridge, where
spades are the highest-ranking suit.
"The invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes." [O.Henry, "Cabbages & Kings," 1904]
Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

in spades

Considerably, in the extreme; also, without restraint. For example, They were having money problems, in spades, or Jan told him what he really thought of him, in spades. This expression alludes to spades as the highest-ranking suit in various card games, such as bridge, and transfers "highest" to other extremes. [Colloquial; 1920s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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