1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Spade

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SPADE, a tool for digging and loosening the soil; together with the fork it forms one of the chief implements wielded by the hand in agriculture and horticulture. Its typical shape is a broad flat blade of iron with a sharp lower edge, straight or curved, the upper edge on either side of the handle affording space for the foot of the digger, which drives it into the ground; the wooden handle terminates in a cross-piece, usually forming a kind of loop for the hand. The word in O.Eng. is spaedu, cognate forms being Du., Swed. and Dan. spade, Ger. Spaten; it is derived from the Gr. σπάθη, a broad blade of wood or metal, and so used of the blade of an oar or sword. This was latinized as spatha, and used of a broad paddle for stirring liquid, of a piece of wood used by weavers for driving home the woof, and particularly of a broad two-edged sword without a point. The Spanish playing cards had " swords " for the suit which we know as " spades," and the suit was called espada (see Cards, Playing) .