from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Work requiring a spade.
  • noun Preparatory work necessary for a project or activity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Work done by digging with a spade.
  • noun figuratively Work done in preparation for something else.

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

  • noun dull or routine preliminary work preparing for an undertaking


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

spade + work


  • At her Sydney farewell in 1990, she thanked Richard Bonynge – her husband, conductor and vocal trainer – for his "spadework", as if she were a shrub that required mulching.

    Dame Joan Sutherland: an appreciation

  • No, not funny, but for what its worth, Rush was/is playing off the fact that Hillary said that Obama has not done the "spadework" necessary to be president on the Today show.

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • Bedding and Saul were no longer needed to track down registered owners of BMW X5's and were back at their usual assignment: post-crime canvassing, "spadework," as it was called.

    The Stone Monkey

  • Not enough "spadework" had been done to convert the Shaka Day celebrations from a tribal to a "national affair", President Nelson

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Prof Hindson said much "spadework" had to be done between the warring factions, including the holding of separate meetings in an attempt to establish a joint agenda for the resumption of peace talks.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • And he failed to perform the kind of spadework necessary to build an opposition party.

    NPR Topics: News

  • TMZ, the popular celebrity ambush TV show and Web site, is doing Parents TV Council's spadework for it, creating a master list to find out exactly which advertisers on MTV's sexy teen-cast "Skins" are, and which are not, pulling their plugs from the sexy teen MTV series.

    H&R Block shocked to learn its ad ran in MTV's sexy teen series "Skins"

  • Previous ranking: 5 3. Newt Gingrich: For months we've been hearing that Gingrich has been doing lots of under-the-radar spadework in Iowa.

    Skipping Iowa

  • Swift "offers more than mere technical assistance," says Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has done most of the spadework on the issue.

    Swift Sanctions on Iran

  • As a result of detailed spadework, ATF and Justice Department officials say, those cases now include strong evidence against suspected recipients of the contraband weapons.

    U.S. let guns fall into drug cartels' hands, files show


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