spade

(redirected from spades)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

(as) black as night

Very dark or black in color. A: "I can't believe that Grandma's hair used to be black as night." B: "Well, sure—you've only ever known her with gray hair."
See also: black, night

(as) black as pitch

Very dark or black in color A: "I can't believe that Grandma's hair used to be black as pitch." B: "Well, sure—you've only ever known her with gray hair."
See also: black, pitch

(as) black as the ace of spades

Completely black; totally without light or color. ("Spades" is a black suit in a deck of cards.) The basement gives me the creeps, it's as black as the ace of spades down there!
See also: ace, black, of, spade

(as) cocky as the king of spades

Conceited or haughty. Don't invite Joe to lunch unless you want to hear him brag about all the important things he's doing in his new job. He's just as cocky as the king of spades lately.
See also: cocky, king, of, spade

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

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.

in spades

In large quantity or to an extreme degree. A con artist needs charm, and she had it in spades. This campaign has had drama in spades, but not much discussion of the issues.
See also: spade

spade up

To dig up and turn over soil or some body of soil with or as with a spade. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spade" and "up." You'll want to spade up the flower bed and mix in some fresh compost before sowing the new seeds. The ground was so full of stones and weeds that spading the soil up was an absolute chore.
See also: spade, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*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
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

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
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

in spades

COMMON
1. If you have something in spades, you have a lot of it. The job required determination and ambition — and she had both qualities in spades.
2. If something happens in spades, it happens to a great degree. All this effort has paid off in spades.
See also: 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

in spades

to a very high degree; as much as or more than could be desired. informal
This expression derives from the fact that spades are the highest-ranking suit in the card game bridge.
1996 Time Out Wit, vitality, heart, story-telling flair: the movie has each in spades.
See also: 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

in ˈspades

(informal) in large amounts or to a great degree: He’d got his revenge now, and in spades.
Spades are one of the four kinds of playing cards. They are the highest cards in the game of bridge.
See also: spade
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

in spades

mod. in the best way possible; extravagantly. He flunked the test in spades.
See also: spade
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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
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.

black as night/pitch/the ace of spades

Very dark indeed. To these overused similes one can add ink (Spenser, Shakespeare), the crow or raven (Petronius, Chaucer), soot (John Ray’s proverbs, 1678), ebony (Shakespeare), and coal (Chaucer). The comparison to night (and also midnight) was more common in the nineteenth century, although Milton also used it (Paradise Lost), whereas black as pitch dates from Homer’s time (Iliad).
See also: ace, black, night, of, pitch, spade

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, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in classic literature ?
The gardener seemed even to have been conversing, but at sight of the detectives he planted his spade sullenly in a bed and, saying something about his breakfast, shifted along the lines of cabbages and shut himself in the kitchen.
He put his spade in methodically in every place but just this.
Flambeau pulled up the spade and impetuously drove it into the place.
I followed with the spade over my shoulder, dragging my snake.
`We'd been up to Russian Peter's, to borrow a spade for Ambrosch.'
It marks IV of Spades' first show in Manila for their ongoing 'Sweet Shadow Tour.' The trio have already performed for their fans in Iloilo and Bacolod.
class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink= IV of Spades members, Zildjian Benitez, Blaster Silonga and Badjao De Castro, recently released their new single "Bata Dahan-Dahan," their second single after former vocalist Unique Salonga went solo.
Spades that cost half the price but last two years instead of 22 are not cost effective.
CAMPAIGNERS searching for the body of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett have found a spade close to the spot where he is believed to have been buried.
Located on the second floor of Harvey Nichols Riyadh, in women's wear section, the limited exclusive pieces specially created for Queen of Spades' clientele in Saudi Arabia, feature more conservative yet contemporary chic pieces, tailored to the special requests and feedback of its patrons in the kingdom.
There are 13 choices when selecting the first card, only 12 to choose from for the second, then 11 for the third and so on, which gives 13x12x11x10x9 = 154,440 ways of selecting all five Spades. We need to divide this total by 5x4x3x2x1 = 120 as we are not interested in the order in which the five Spades are chosen, as all orders still give a Flush.
As an essential gardening tool, the major differences in size, weight, and construction of spades reflect their primary use.
If clubs break 2-2 and spades 3-2, East takes eleven tricks.
From 1992 to its retirement in 2002, Ace of Spades moved more than 300 million tonnes of overburden material and was a prominent sight at the 1,500-acre Stobswood mine.
When declarer won the ace of spades and lead out all his clubs eight rounds of cards had been played.