spade


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Related to spade: call a spade a spade

do the spadework

To do the necessary preparatory work or research to successfully complete a given task or objective. Likened to working the soil with a spade when preparing to plant something. If you are looking to start your own business, you have to be sure to do the spadework first. I was up all night doing the spadework for my first case as a lawyer.

*black as a skillet

 and *black as a stack of black cats; *black as a sweep; *black as coal; *black as night; *black as pitch; *black as the ace of spades
completely dark or black. (*Also: as ~.) I don't want to go down to the cellar. It's as black as a skillet down there. Her hair was black as a stack of black cats. After playing in the mud all morning, the children were as black as night. The stranger's clothes were all black as pitch.
See also: black, skillet

call a spade a spade

Fig. to call something by its right name; to speak frankly about something, even if it is unpleasant. (Considered offensive by some. Use only with discretion.) Well, I believe it's time to call a spade a spade. We are just avoiding the issue. Let's call a spade a spade. The man is a liar.
See also: call, spade

*cocky as the king of spades

boastful; overly proud. (*Also: as ~.) He'd challenge anyone to a fight. He's as cocky as the king of spades. She strutted in, cocky as the king of spades.
See also: cocky, king, of, spade

in spades

in the best or most extreme way possible; extravagantly. He flunked the test in spades. He succeeded at life in spades—honors degree, great career, rich wife, lovely children, and early retirement.
See also: spade

spade something up

to turn over the soil in a garden plot with a spade. Please go out and spade the garden up so I can plant the potatoes and onions. I will spade up the garden when I have time.
See also: spade, up

call a spade a spade

to tell the unpleasant truth about something Let's call a spade a spade – Brad is a very poor student.
See also: call, spade

in spades

in large amounts or to a very great degree He complained that Allan had stolen some of his ideas, but Silverman didn't mention that he had done the same in spades. All Freya really wanted was results, and results were what I gave her – in spades.
See also: spade

call a spade a spade

to tell the truth about something, even if it is not polite or pleasant You know me, I call a spade a spade and when I see someone behaving like an idiot, I tell them.
See also: call, spade

in spades

  (mainly American)
in large amounts or to a very great degree The thing that you absolutely must have for this job is confidence - and Adam has it in spades. I don't get colds often, but when I do I get them in spades.
See also: spade

call a spade a spade

Speak frankly and bluntly, be explicit, as in You can always trust Mary to call a spade a spade. This term comes from a Greek saying, call a bowl a bowl, that was mistranslated into Latin by Erasmus and came into English in the 1500s. Also see tell it like it is.
See also: call, spade

do the spadework

Make the preliminary preparations or do the preliminary research for something. For example, The department head did all the spadework for this agreement. This expression transfers the heavy spading required to prepare for planting to other kinds of preparation. [c. 1900]

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]
See also: spade

in spades

mod. in the best way possible; extravagantly. He flunked the test in spades.
See also: spade

call a spade a spade

To speak plainly and forthrightly.
See also: call, spade

in spades

To a considerable degree: They had financial trouble in spades.
See also: spade
References in classic literature ?
I followed with the spade over my shoulder, dragging my snake.
And he actually stopped digging, threw his spade over his shoulder and walked off, without even glancing at her or saying good-by.
He handled it and leaned on it in a way that showed how much more familiar it was to him than that new spade he was so anxious about.
The doctor had thumbed over all his books of knowledge for the occasion, and the black fisherman was engaged to take them in his skiff to the scene of enterprise, to work with spade and pickax in unearthing the treasure, and to freight his bark with the weighty spoils they were certain of finding.
One or two strokes of a spade upturned the blade of a large Spanish knife, and, as we dug farther, three or four loose pieces of gold and silver coin came to light.
He would dash his spade into the ground and walk to and fro before it.
The earth near the spot where the spade was found was carefully examined, and the result was the finding of the dead body of a man.
Three days of labor with the spade and the sieve produced no results of the slightest importance.
Against the last stripe of the green-gold sunset he saw a black human silhouette; a man in a chimney-pot hat, with a big spade over his shoulder.
Which sentiment I shall thus give to the English reader: "You provide the noblest materials for building, when a pickaxe and a spade are only necessary: and build houses of five hundred by a hundred feet, forgetting that of six by two.
The little girl tried to say it in French, but could not remember the French for spade; the mother prompted her, and then told her in French where to look for the spade.
All this was gall and wormwood to the heart of Gabriel Grub; and when groups of children bounded out of the houses, tripped across the road, and were met, before they could knock at the opposite door, by half a dozen curly-headed little rascals who crowded round them as they flocked upstairs to spend the evening in their Christmas games, Gabriel smiled grimly, and clutched the handle of his spade with a firmer grasp, as he thought of measles, scarlet fever, thrush, whooping-cough, and a good many other sources of consolation besides.
That's the sexton's spade, and it's a well-used one, as you see.
I have seen Mohegan and the Leather-Stocking, with my own eyes—and my eyes are as good as anybody’s eyes—I have seen them, I say, both going up the mountain and coming down it, with spades and picks; and others have seen them carrying things into their hut, in a secret and mysterious manner, after dark.
Tess soon perceived as she walked in the flock, sometimes with this one, sometimes with that, that the fresh night air was producing staggerings and serpentine courses among then men who had partaken too freely; some of the more careless women also were wandering in their gait--to wit, a dark virago, Car Darch, dubbed Queen of Spades, till lately a favourite of d'Urberville's; Nancy, her sister, nicknamed the Queen of Diamonds; and the young married woman who had already tumbled down.