call a spade a spade, to

(redirected from To call a spade a spade)
Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Related to To call a spade a spade: Idioms

call a spade a spade

To address or describe the true nature of someone or something, even if it is unpleasant. The term originated from a translation of an ancient Greek phrase, but is considered offensive by some due to the later use of the word "spade" as a racial slur for a black person. I know you like Jason, but he's a jerk! I'm sorry, but I have to call a spade a spade. You have to call a spade a spade and acknowledge the corruption built into this system!
See also: call, spade
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

call a spade a spade

If you call a spade a spade, you speak honestly and directly about a subject even if it offends people. In the meantime, Whyte is emerging as an outspoken voice who is willing to call a spade a spade. I'm not at all secretive, and I'm pretty good at calling a spade a spade. Note: You can also say that someone calls a spade a shovel when they speak extremely honestly and directly. He is never afraid to call a spade a shovel — and that is why he has universal respect in the game. Note: In a play by the Ancient Greek dramatist Menander, one of the characters says `I call a fig a fig, and a spade a spade'.
See also: call, spade
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

call a spade a spade

speak plainly or bluntly, without avoiding issues which are unpleasant or embarrassing.
A variation on this phrase, dating from the early 20th century and used for humorous emphasis, is call a spade a shovel .
1998 Spectator A man whom I might not agree with where politics are concerned, but one who calls a spade a spade.
See also: call, spade
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

call a ˌspade a ˈspade

speak openly and directly about something unpleasant: I believe in calling a spade a spade. When a patient’s going to die, I say so. Most people prefer to know the truth. OPPOSITE: beat about the bush
See also: call, spade
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

call a spade a spade

To speak plainly and forthrightly.
See also: call, spade
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

call a spade a spade, to

To speak frankly and bluntly, to be quite explicit. The term dates from the sixteenth century, but may go back even to Greek and Roman times. One translation of Cicero’s Ad Familiares reads, “Here is your Stoic disquisition . . . ‘the wise man will call a spade a spade.’”There are numerous repetitions throughout the 1500s, such as John Taverner’s (“Whiche call . . . a mattok nothing els but a mattok, and a spade a spade,” Garden of Wysdome, 1539), and later uses by Ben Jonson, Robert Burton, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain, among others. A cliché since the nineteenth century, it acquired a more sinister meaning when spade became an offensive slang word for a black person.
See also: call, spade
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also: