Australian slang

An adaptation of the popular phrase: "Call a spade a spade".

The original means simply to describe the something as it is, without embellishment, as in "Let's call a spade a spade"

The more vulgar "call a spade a fucking shovel" means to state one's opinion with brutal honesty, sparing nobody's feelings, and without any regard whatsoever to the consequences.

Often used to describe boorish people:
"John is one of those people who calls a spade a fucking shovel".

The point here with the terms 'spade' and 'shovel' is that they are used to refer to the same tool. The term 'spade' would be used by someone of more refined character, and a 'shovel' by someone with fewer social graces. This appears to be a notion peculiar to Australia, perhaps arising from the British use of the term 'spade' and the notion in Australia that the English are generally cultural snobs.

Brit: I say, dear chap I wonder if you'd be kind enough hand me that spade..
Aussie: Spade? It's a fucking shovel!


I am aware that a spade and a shovel are not the same implement. Part of the point is that such a person would not know the difference and refer to them as the same thing.
Spades and shovels aren't the same. A spade has a flat rectangular blade, while a shovel's blade is often rounded on the end, and is more scoop-shaped. A spade's blade is in a straight line with the handle, whereas a shovel has a bend behind the blade. If you put a spade's blade flat on the ground, the handle will also be on the ground. If you put a shovel's blade flat on the ground, the end of the handle will stick up to about thigh or waist high because of the bend, which is called a gooseneck or lift.

They also have different purposes, with shovels being used to dig dirt and move dirt around, while spades are normally used for working the soil, prying and loosening dirt. The design of the spade makes it good for digging into dirt vertically, because the digger can push the spade into the ground with their foot.

The bend in the shovel's handle makes it suitable for moving dirt around, because you can hold the shovel at about waist high and lift dirt from ground level. If you tried that with a spade, you would get a sore back because the handle would be at ground level, and you would have to bend right over to left the dirt. Take a trip down to your local hardware store and take a look.

Remember, kiddies! Always use the right tool for the job!

If someone was to use the phrase "call a spade a shovel", it would show their ignorance of digging implements. It would be like calling an inkjet printer a laser printer because "Hey! They both print stuff!". A spade is not a shovel, and a shovel is not a spade.

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