See also: Spate and späte



Of Celtic origin; compare Irish speid. (Can this(+) etymology be sourced?)



spate (plural spates)

  1. A river flood; an overflow or inundation.
    • c.1856-1885, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Gareth and Lynette, in Idylls of the King,
      The last tall son of Lot and Bellicent,
      And tallest, Gareth, in a showerful spring
      Stared at the spate. A slender-shafted Pine
      Lost footing, fell, and so was whirled away.
    • 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War,
      At Odendaal, where he had hoped to cross, the river was in spate, the British flag waved from a post upon the further side, and a strong force of expectant Guardsmen eagerly awaited him there.
    • 1902, Jack London, A Daughter of the Snows,
      The glacial drip was already in evidence, and every creek in roaring spate.
    • 1910, John Buchan, Prester John,
      At the edge of the burn, where the path turns downward, there is a patch of shingle washed up by some spate.
  2. (by extension) A sudden rush or increase.
    • 17thC, Thomas Browne (translator), To a friend intending a difficult work, from a Latin original, published in Collected works of Sir Thomas Browne (1836),
      Only let your language match your subject, then it will be shapely and free; but take care all the time not to overwhelm your work in a spate of words to attain the fluency of Isaeus; and that it slip not out too freely, avoid the danger of Strada.
    • 1887, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thrawn Janet, in The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables,
      He couldnae weel tell how - maybe it was the cauld to his feet - but it cam' in upon him wi' a spate that there was some connection between thir twa, an' that either or baith o' them were bogles.
    • 1964, United States Supreme Court, Reynolds v. Sims: Opinion of the Court,
      The spate of similar cases filed and decided by lower courts since our decision in Baker [v. Carr] amply shows that the problem of state legislative malapportionment is one that is perceived to exist in a large number of the States.
    • 2009 April, Australia Tibet Council, Australia Tibet Council report: Courting The Dragon,
      A recent spate of controversies, including Chinese mineral giant Chinalco’s Rio Tinto bid and revelations of hushed meetings between the Chinese propaganda chief and Australian media bosses, have once again brought the issue of our deepening relationship with China to the fore.
    • 2014 August 21, “A brazen heist in Paris”, in The New York Times[1]:
      The audacious hijacking in Paris of a van carrying the baggage of a Saudi prince to his private jet is obviously an embarrassment to the French capital, whose ultra-high-end boutiques have suffered a spate of heists in recent months.
    • 2020 September 15, “‘Nothing to Do With Climate Change’: Conservative Media and Trump Align on Fires”, in New York Times[2]:
      Rush Limbaugh told millions of his radio listeners to set aside any suggestion that climate change was the culprit for the frightening spate of wildfires ravaging California and the Pacific Northwest.


Further readingEdit




spate f

  1. plural of spata



From Latin spathae, plural of spatha, from Ancient Greek σπάθη (spáthē).



spate n (plural spate)

  1. back (anatomy)
  2. back (part, side) of something
  3. shoulder



Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit