small spade for clay soil; the other one for sandy soil and loamy soil

A spade is a tool designed primarily for the purpose of digging or removing earth.[1] Early spades were made of riven wood. After the art of metalworking was discovered, spades were made with sharper tips of metal. Before the advent of metal spades manual labor was less efficient at moving earth, with picks being required to break up the soil in addition to a spade for moving the dirt. With a metal tip, a spade can both break and move the earth in most situations, increasing efficiency.



English spade is from Old English spadu, spædu (f.) or spada (m.). The same word is found in Old Frisian spade and Old Saxon spado. High German spaten only appears in Early Modern German, probably loaned from Low German. Scandinavian forms are in turn loaned from German. The term may thus not originate in Common Germanic and appears to be a North Sea Germanic innovation or loaned. Closely related is Greek σπαθη, whence Latin spatha.

Designs of spades

Spades are made in many shapes and sizes, for a variety of different functions and jobs. There are many different designs used in spade manufacturing. The term shovel is sometimes used interchangeably with spade, but shovels generally are broad-bottomed and better suited for moving loose materials, whereas spades tend to be pointed for use as a digging tool.

The most common spade is a garden spade, which typically has a long handle, is wide, and is treaded (has rests for the feet to drive the spade into the ground). An Irish spade is similar to a common garden spade, with the same general design, although it has a much thinner head. A sharpshooter is a narrow spade. A turfing iron has a short, round head, and it used for cutting and parring off turf. A digging fork, or grape, is forked much like a pitchfork, and is useful for loosening ground and gardening. There also can be toy spades for kids.

Loy ploughing

Loy ploughing was a form of manual ploughing carried out in Ireland using a form of spade called a Loy. It took place on very small farms or on very hilly ground, where horses couldn't work or where farmers couldn't afford them.[2] It was used up until the 1960s in poorer land.[3] This suited the moist climate of Ireland as the trenches formed by turning in the sods providing drainage. It also allowed the growing of potatoes in bogs as well as on mountain slopes where no other cultivation could take place.[4]

Digging tool

In gardening, a spade is a hand tool used to dig or loosen ground, or to break up lumps in the soil. Together with the fork it forms one of the chief implements wielded by the hand in agriculture and horticulture. It is sometimes considered a type of shovel. Its typical shape is a broad flat blade with a sharp lower edge, straight or curved. The upper edge on either side of the handle affords space for the user's foot, which drives it into the ground. The wooden handle ends in a cross-piece, sometimes T-shaped and sometimes forming a kind of loop for the hand.

Small and/or plastic toy versions of the same tool are used to dig sand castles on a beach or in a sand-box.

Other uses of the term

  • In the oil and chemical process industries, a spade is a round piece of metal with a small tab that is placed in between two pipe flanges to give positive isolation from the centre; usually to prevent cross contamination between fluids or to allow work on the line. The name comes from the shape: a little like a garden spade. The small tab lets one see that the spade is in place.
  • In kitchenware, certain ice cream scoops are called spades due to the shape. These scoops are used more in making hand-scooped milkshakes or desserts where a lot of ice cream can be scooped at once and the typical "ball" shape of scooped ice cream (i.e., scoops on a cone) is not needed. The spade-shaped head also helps scrape off the ice cream stuck to the sides of the cartons.
  • In typography, the spade is a symbol (♠) stylized from the idea of the tool. It is used as one of the suits of playing cards.

See also

Sources and references

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spade — Spade, n. [AS. sp[ae]d; spada; akin to D. spade, G. spaten, Icel. spa[eth]i, Dan. & Sw. spade, L. spatha a spatula, a broad two edged sword, a spathe, Gr. spa qh. Cf. {Epaulet}, {Spade} at cards, {Spathe}, {Spatula}.] 1. An implement for digging… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spade — Ⅰ. spade [1] ► NOUN ▪ a tool with a rectangular metal blade and a long handle, used for digging. ► VERB ▪ dig over or move with a spade. ● call a spade a spade Cf. ↑call a spade a spade ORIGIN …   English terms dictionary

  • spade — spade1 [spād] n. [ME < OE spadu, akin to Ger spaten < IE base * spē , long flat piece of wood > SPOON, Gr spathē] 1. a heavy, flat bladed, long handled tool used for digging by pressing the metal blade into the ground with the foot 2.… …   English World dictionary

  • Spade — (sp[=a]d), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Spaded}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Spading}.] To dig with a spade; to pare off the sward of, as land, with a spade. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spade — [speıd] n ↑spade [Sense: 1,3; Origin: Old English spadu] [Sense: 2, 4 5; Date: 1500 1600; : Italian; Origin: spada or Spanish espada broad sword (used as a mark on cards), from Latin spatha; SPATULA] 1.) a tool for digging that …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Spade — ist der Name folgender Personen: David Spade (* 1964), US amerikanischer Schauspieler, Comedian und Produzent Kate Spade (* 1962), US amerikanische Modeschöpferin Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrere …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • spade — [ speıd ] noun 1. ) count a SHOVEL used for digging earth 2. ) count a playing card with a pattern like a pointed black leaf on it a ) spades plural the SUIT (=group) of playing cards that has this pattern on them. The other suits are clubs,… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Spade — Spade, TX U.S. Census Designated Place in Texas Population (2000): 100 Housing Units (2000): 49 Land area (2000): 1.959316 sq. miles (5.074604 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.959316 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Spade, TX — U.S. Census Designated Place in Texas Population (2000): 100 Housing Units (2000): 49 Land area (2000): 1.959316 sq. miles (5.074604 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.959316 sq. miles (5.074604… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • spade — spade; spade·ful; spade·man; …   English syllables

  • Spade — Spade, n. [Cf. {Spay}, n.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A hart or stag three years old. [Written also {spaid}, {spayade}.] [1913 Webster] 2. [Cf. L. spado.] A castrated man or beast. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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