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. GirbJdii, a broad blade of wood or metal, and soused 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).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)