In spades

In spades is an idiom that was coined in the United States. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, chin up, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom in spades, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

In spades means an abundance, having more than an enough, a large quantity, or to a large degree. The idiom in spades is a reference to the suit in a deck of cards. A modern deck of cards is comprised of four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. Spades is the highest ranking suit in the game of bridge, a popular card game in the 1920s. The expression in spades to mean abundance came into use in the United States during this time, along with many other idioms.


McElhenney’s trademark caustic humour is there in spades – jokes about suicide and Nazis flirt with the boundaries of good taste – but this time, the characters actually grow as humans. (The Independent)

“I won’t forget that in a hurry because I repay loyalty in spades.” (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Khan recommends incorporating adaptogens like ashwagandha into your diet to take down levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which many of us produce in spades. (Vogue Magazine)

“What we have in spades is the true passion and love for the products,” Powell said. (The Bend Bulletin)

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