Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sudden flood, rush, or outpouring: "It issues a spate of words from the loudspeakers and the politicians” ( Virginia Woolf).
  • n. Chiefly British A flash flood.
  • n. Chiefly British A freshet resulting from a downpour of rain or melting of snow.
  • n. Chiefly British A sudden heavy fall of rain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A river flood; an overflow or inundation.
  • n. A sudden rush or increase.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A river flood; an overflow or inundation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A natural outpour of water; a flood; specifically, a sudden flood or freshet, as from a swollen river or lake.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the occurrence of a water flow resulting from sudden rain or melting snow
  • n. a sudden forceful flow
  • n. (often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent

Etymologies

Middle English.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Of Celtic origin; compare Irish speid. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But one group of Boston brokers also has detected what they call a spate of "rent engineering" -- a tactic of getting the highest possible face rent by giving the tenant favorable terms on other aspects of the leases.

    Raising Rents

  • To sit immediately below Fidel in full spate is an extraordinary experience.

    Fidel Castro

  • Here the first need is for the control for flood protection of the waters which come down in sudden spate from the glaciers and snowclad slopes of the Rockies under the effect of the strengthening sun of spring and early summer.

    Boundary Waters Between Canada and the United States

  • The usual six o'clock home-going stream was in spate with Christmas crowds, and Oxford Street was a solid jam.

    Mrs. Miniver

  • The longer-term spate of quakes, starting with the magnitude-9. 3 Indian Ocean event in 2004 that triggered a devastating tsunami, follows a roughly 50-year cycle of earthquake activity, says geophysicist and USGS director Marcia McNutt.

    canada.com Top Stories

  • Calling the spate of initiatives "not terribly substantial," Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner R., Ohio said "this reversal is striking since his administration has consistently blocked American-made energy."

    Obama Says He Will Seek to Lift U.S. Oil Output

  • "We're seeing the beginnings of that through these multiple suicide bombers trying to create a sensational attack that has far-reaching impact," Rodriguez said, referring to a spate of recent bombings targeting hotels, banks and supermarkets.

    U.S. expects Afghan Taliban will launch spring campaign to regain lost ground

  • I don't say that Obama has no support out there, but I recall a spate of stories to the effect that she was mopping up most of the support there after his early surge in the area ...

    Hillary Endorsed By A Meathead

  • He called a spate a spate in the most creative and artistic way possible and, at least I, never disgreed with him.

    Ingmar Bergman, Famed Director, Dies at 89 - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com

  • No separate values are available for the part called spate irrigation or flood recession cropping.

    Water profile of Somalia

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