It May Be A Spade But YOU Can Call It A Shovel

by | Oct 30, 2014 | Home and Garden

There is an old saying that we inherited from the Brits that goes along the lines of “to call a spade a spade”. It is believed to have entered the English language around 1542 as a mistranslation from ancient Greek. The meaning is to be blunt about something – even to the point of possible rudeness. The basic concept is to use the real name for something and not replace it with something more fanciful. For example, you could say that a spade is a “specially shaped blade for extracting soil out of the ground”. However, in 1919 The Oxford Dictionary did state that it was OK to “”to call a spade a bloody shovel”.

But, Is A Spade A Shovel?

I doubt if many people have lost sleep over this question – vexing as it is. When you shovel snow off your driveway, you sort of scoop up the snow with a more or less horizontal insertion of the shovel blade. You then toss the snow elsewhere or carry it to another place.

However, when you dig a hole with a spade, you stamp down vertically on the upper lip of the blade so as to force it down into the soil so that you can tilt it out and remove earth so as to make a hole. In essence, a spade is a spade and a shovel is a Shovel. However, very few of us are that pedantic in our speech and we mix and match the words almost at whim.

Of course, there are those who do not like to use the word “spade” at all because of unfortunate connotations that have become attached to that word from around 1928 until today; for those of that frame of mind, it matters not if you dig with it or use it to scoop something up – they are all shovels.

Many Types

Shovels are mass produced in varieties aimed at performing specific functions. An entrenching tool is nothing but a small Shovel where the blade can be folded up to the handle and the tool can then be easily carried by infantry men going into battle and needing to dig holes to shelter in from enemy gunfire. A gardening trowel is a miniature Shovel used mainly in greenhouses and flower beds where small amounts of soil need to be removed – as when planting seedlings for example. There are then barn shovels, snow shovels & digging shovels – the list of applications (each with a corresponding shape) is fairly extensive. But they are all called shovels. For more details, contact EARTH TALON

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