spade·​work | \ ˈspād-ˌwərk How to pronounce spadework (audio) \

Definition of spadework

1 : work done with a spade
2 : the hard plain preliminary drudgery in an undertaking

Examples of spadework in a Sentence

She had her assistants do the spadework in preparation for the trial.

Recent Examples on the Web

Democratic voters remain more politically engaged than Republican voters on several dimensions — including their willingness to do the spadework of an election campaign. John Sides, Washington Post, "New election poll shows Democratic voters are more engaged and Democratic House incumbents more popular," 13 June 2018 That triumph only occurred after years of diplomatic spadework, including a secret visit by Henry A. Kissinger to China a year earlier. Eli Stokols,, "Summits are tricky: Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan each learned the hard way," 9 June 2018 Trump had already given a major concession by agreeing to meet Kim before any of the diplomatic spadework was accomplished. Barbara Demick,, "In canceling the North Korea summit, Trump found an exit from an increasingly risky meeting, analysts say," 24 May 2018 The concern among the policy experts is that there has been so little of the kind of diplomatic spadework that has led to past breakthroughs on similarly complex issues – for instance, President Richard Nixon’s 1972 opening to China. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why the US undervalues nuts and bolts diplomacy at its peril," 2 Apr. 2018 Diplomats are appalled that Trump has done the whole thing backwards: Leaders usually meet at the end of a painstaking diplomatic process, coming together at the top of the mountain of spadework done by armies of anonymous bureaucrats. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "The Madman Summit," 9 Mar. 2018 Donald Trump, the outsider’s outsider, would benefit immensely from his party’s spadework. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Atlantic, "How the GOP Prompted the Decay of Political Norms," 30 Oct. 2016 Tillerson, meanwhile, is expected to spend far less time engaging in diplomatic spadework than his predecessors, who traditionally spend more than a week in New York meeting with foreign dignitaries in countless meetings., "Tillerson wants fewer US diplomats, fewer meetings at UN summit," 29 July 2017 Sekulow also got in some political spadework that offers clues as to the White House's legal strategy ahead. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump's attack dog lawyer," 20 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spadework.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of spadework

1778, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for spadework

The first known use of spadework was in 1778

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English Language Learners Definition of spadework

: difficult work that is done especially to prepare for something

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