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

  • n. A sturdy digging tool having a thick handle and a heavy, flat blade that can be pressed into the ground with the foot.
  • n. Any of various similar digging or cutting tools.
  • transitive v. To dig or cut with a spade.
  • n. Games A black, leaf-shaped figure on certain playing cards.
  • n. Games A playing card with this figure.
  • n. Games The suit of cards represented by this figure.
  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a Black person.
  • idiom in spades To a considerable degree: They had financial trouble in spades.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A garden tool with a handle and a flat blade for digging. Not to be confused with a shovel which is used for moving earth or other materials.
  • n. A playing card marked with the symbol ♠.
  • n. A black person.
  • v. To turn over soil with a spade to loosen the ground for planting.
  • v. To collect and statistically analyze data, for the purpose of determining the underlying random number generator structure or numeric formula.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hart or stag three years old.
  • n. A castrated man or beast.
  • n. An implement for digging or cutting the ground, consisting usually of an oblong and nearly rectangular blade of iron, with a handle like that of a shovel.
  • n. One of that suit of cards each of which bears one or more figures resembling a spade.
  • n. A cutting instrument used in flensing a whale.
  • transitive v. To dig with a spade; to pare off the sward of, as land, with a spade.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To dig or cut with a spade; dig up (the ground) by menns of a spade.
  • In whaling, to use the boat-spade on, as a whale; cut the tendons of the flukes of; hamstring.
  • n. A tool for digging and cutting the ground, having a rather thick iron blade, usually flat, so formed that its terminal edge (either straight or curved) may be pressed into the ground or other resisting substance with one foot, and a handle, usually with a crosspiece at the top, to be grasped by both hands.
  • n. A tool of soft iron used with diamond-powder by cameo-cutters in finishing.
  • n. In whaling, a large chisel-like implement used on blubber or bone in cutting-in. See phrases following.
  • n. In herpetology, a formation on the foot of some toads with which they dig. See spade-fool.
  • n. A playing-card of one of the two black suits of a pack, the other being clubs.
  • n. An emasculated person; a eunuch.
  • n. An emasculated animal; a gelding.
  • n. In artillery, a thick metal projection at the end of the trail of a field-gun carriage, which is forced into the ground by the recoil and tends to keep the carriage in the same position for subsequent rounds.

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

  • n. a sturdy hand shovel that can be pushed into the earth with the foot
  • n. (ethnic slur) extremely offensive name for a Black person
  • n. a playing card in the major suit that has one or more black figures on it
  • v. dig (up) with a spade


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

Middle English, from Old English spadu.
Italian spade, pl. of spada, card suit, from Latin spatha, sword, broad-bladed stirrer, from Greek spathē, broad blade.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English spadu, spada, from Proto-Germanic. Cognate with Old Frisian spada, Old Saxon spado, German Spaten. Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *sph₂-dʰ-, whence also Ancient Greek σπάθη (spathē, "blade"), Hittite išpatar ("spear").



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  • I should think they might dream of being a heart, or even a diamond.

    March 2, 2008

  • I wonder if spades ever get tired of being called that. Do you think some dream of being called a trowel?

    January 27, 2008

  • "Call a spade a spade."

    January 26, 2008