"spade" as ONLY a racial slur?

William Salmon william.salmon at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 19 13:54:53 UTC 2008

> "For some speakers of American English (by no means all of them), the word
> "spade" has lost all applications except for use as a derogatory
> racial designation."
> I suppose this might be true for a few people who know only the word
> "shovel," and think of "spadework" as railroad portering and other
> stereotypical jobs from the twentieth century. (Would they believe
> that Sam Spade was an African-American detective?) Even so, this
> would only be true of those who had never seen a deck of cards.

These same speakers probably wouldn't buy handbags by Kate Spade,
either. :-)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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