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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