Meaning of the idiom ‘call a spade a spade’.

To call a spade a spade is an idiomatic expression that means to express your feelings or speak about someone or something honestly, even if it offends or hurts people. When you call a spade a spade, you know that it’s probably going to come across as rude or offensive.

Calling a spade a spade is difficult for most people as the matter is often unpleasant or challenging and has negative repercussions. And no one likes to be a villain as when you call a spade a spade, you’re not being diplomatic and trying to be nice, you just want to tell the truth as you see it. You feel the need to do it because the matter is, often, being ignored by others.  

Example 1

The guy you’re about to marry is a fraud. He has been dating multiple girls for years behind your back. It deeply hurts me to say this, but I have to call a spade a spade. It’s about your future.

Example 2

Riya: Why did you pick a fight with Jon at the meeting? He is our manager. We might have to pay a price for it.

Akshay: He was lying in front of the board members. You know that he didn’t work on the project; we did. It succeeded because of us. He was taking the credit. I had to call a spade a spade.

Example 3

One of the most important requirements of this job is to call a spade a spade

Example 4

We need the best guys for this project to be successful. So, if you’re not good enough or lack something that’s vital for the success of the project, you won’t be selected. We are going to call a spade a spade. This is not personal; this is business.

Example 5

Just because he called a spade a spade, the company fired him. But we needed someone who could call a spade a spade so that we can grow. If he had sucked up to the management like everyone and not called a spade a spade, he wouldn’t have gotten fired.

Call a spade a spade
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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

2 thoughts on “TO CALL A SPADE A SPADE”

  1. Hi Ashish
    Thank you for sharing your first love with me.I thoroughly enjoyed this idiom.I would like to have more and incorporate it in my speech .idioms I find so practical .It brings you quicker to understanding a topic/subject etc Regards Denise


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