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spade +‎ work


spadework (uncountable)

  1. Work done by digging with a spade.
  2. (figuratively) Work done in preparation for something else.
    • There's a lot of spadework to be done before the scheme can be implemented.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter VIII:
      Removing a portion of chair which had got entangled in my back hair, I said with a candour that became me well: “I was looking for a mouse.” If she had replied, “Ah, yes, indeed. I understand now. A mouse, to be sure. Quite,” everything would have been nice and smooth, but she didn't. “A mouse?” she said. “What do you mean?” Well, of course, if she didn't know what a mouse was, there was evidently a good deal of tedious spadework before us, and one would scarcely have known where to start.


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