spade

1 of 3

noun (1)

1
: a digging implement adapted for being pushed into the ground with the foot
2
: a spade-shaped instrument
spadeful noun

spade

2 of 3

verb

spaded; spading

transitive verb

: to dig up or out or shape with or as if with a spade

intransitive verb

: to use a spade
spader noun

spade

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
a
: a black figure that resembles a stylized spearhead on each playing card of one of the four suits
also : a card marked with this figure
b
spades plural in form but singular or plural in construction : the suit comprising cards marked with spades
2
offensive
used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a Black person
Phrases
in spades
: to an unusually great degree : in the extreme

Examples of spade in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Having access to medication isn’t a trivial matter, and technology literally delivers access in spades. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 West led the ace of spades, and Moses wondered how the defense would win three tricks, given the strong North-South auction. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 25 Mar. 2024 Bright Future makes a big promise with it’s title; fortunately for us, Lenker delivers in spades. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 22 Mar. 2024 So the really coveted thing is great writing, and Mike White certainly offers that in spades, as well as really incredible direction. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Mar. 2024 Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, $98 (Save 21%) Best Apple Deals Apple devices are on sale in spades at the moment. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 20 Mar. 2024 This last realization came home in spades to me on a winter day when Anton was 6. Robert Klose, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Mar. 2024 To pass might be right, but your raise to three clubs was based more on distribution than on sound high-card values, and if partner has something in spades, the defenders may attack hearts successfully. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 13 Mar. 2024 Yet the show delivered entertainment and emotion in spades, if not surprise. Alison Herman, Variety, 11 Mar. 2024
Verb
Use a spading fork to dig tubers on a sunny day when the soil is dry. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 29 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spade.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, going back to Old English spadu, spædu, spade (plural spadan), going back to Germanic *spaðōn- (whence also Old Saxon spado "digging implement, spade," Old Frisian spada, early Modern German Spaten, Icelandic spaði), akin to Greek spáthē "any of various blade-like implements or objects," both going back to Indo-European *sph2-dh-, perhaps a suffixed derivative of the verbal base *speh2- "draw, pull out" — more at spasm

Note: Hittite išpann-, išpatar "spit, skewer" has also been compared, though according to Jaan Puhvel the stem would reflect *speh2-tr- rather than *speh2-dhr- (see Hittite Etymological Dictionary, vol. 1/2, pp. 450-51). Probably also relevant are Sanskrit sphya- "shoulder blade," Khotanese phvai "spade, shovel," perhaps reflecting *sph2-i-o- (for further Indo-Iranian forms see Manfred Mayrhofer, Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen, 3. Band, p. 547; H.W. Bailey, Dictionary of Khotan Saka, Cambridge, 1979, p. 264).

Verb

verbal derivative of spade entry 1

Noun (2)

Italian spada or Spanish espada broadsword; both from Latin spatha, from Greek spathē blade

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1647, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of spade was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near spade

Cite this Entry

“Spade.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spade. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

spade

1 of 3 noun
1
: a digging tool like a shovel made so that it can be pushed into the ground with the foot
2
: a spade-shaped instrument
spadeful noun

spade

2 of 3 verb
spaded; spading
: to dig with or use a spade

spade

3 of 3 noun
1
: a black figure resembling an inverted heart with a short stem at the bottom used to indicate a suit of playing cards
2
: a card of the suit of spades
Etymology

Noun

Old English spadu "a digging tool"

Noun

from Italian spada or Spanish espada, both meaning "broad sword" and both from Latin spatha "blade"

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