In Spades—Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever had something come back to you in spades? Or did anyone ever tell you that you have a certain something (personality-wise) in spades? It sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? It’s like a secret handshake or a code phrase in a spy movie. But that’s not really the case here. Stick around while I break down the meaning behind the expression in spades and show you how to use it correctly.

In Spades Meaning Explained

In Spades Origin Meaning

The phrase in spades is a fairly common idiom in English that means to a great degree or in abundance. If you have something in spades, it means you have a lot of it and then some. Most people use the phrase to indicate an abundance of a certain quality as it relates to a person’s personality.

Origin and Etymology of the Expression “In Spades”

In Spades Ngram
In spades usage trend.

The term in spades is of American origin and takes its name from the card game contract bridge. In Bridge and other popular card games that use suits, spades is the highest suit (that’s the one that looks like garden spades). Therefore, to have something in spades means to have it to the highest degree or to the maximum extent.

One of the first verified uses of the phrase as an idiom was in 1929 by a writer named Damon Runyon in Hearst’s International Magazine.

“I always hear the same thing about every bum on Broadway, male and female, including some I know are bums, in spades, right from taw.”

What’s Another Way to Say “In Spades”?

Synonyms are a great way to switch up your wording and expand your descriptive vocabulary.

  • Abundantly
  • To the hilt
  • In abundance
  • In large quantities

In Spades Examples in a Sentence

In Spades Origin Meaning 1

As always, I love to give as much context as possible. Seeing words and phrases used in a full sentence can help shape a better understanding of how they’re meant to be used.

  • After months of drought, the farmers sighed in relief as a huge rainfall came in spades that lasted for days.
  • My grandma’s garden produces tomatoes in spades every single summer, and she uses them to make her famous homemade tomato sauce.
  • After studying for weeks and weeks, Carolyn passed her final exam in spades.
  • The actor no doubt had talent in spades; it was evident in every role he played.
  • I just love the new restaurant in town that offers charm and character in spades.
  • Despite the challenges, the publishing team delivered amazing results in spades.
  • The novel I’m currently reading, with its twists and turns, delivers a mix of romance and suspense in spades.
  • Candace was not only good at her job but also fantastic, offering efficiency and innovation in spades.
  • She’d hoped for a positive response to her presentation, and it thankfully came back in spades.
  • My husband had charm and charisma in spades; he was the life of every party or event he attended.

Good Grammar in Spades!

Now you can boldly use the phrase in spades in your conversations and writings. It’s a playful and colorful way to express anything with abundance or excess. Play around with it and see how you can work it into everyday usage. Then, check out my other grammar guides!