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Paid back in spades

Posted by Bob on March 27, 2000

In Reply to: Paid back in spades posted by MLM on March 23, 2000

: What is the meaning and origin of the phrase "paid back in spades"?

In contract bridge, as well as a number of other card games, spades are the highest-ranking of the four suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.) Thus a bid in spades outranks a bid in hearts. By extension beyond cards, "in spades" expresses a decisive, complete, no-doubt defeat. If I suffer a (real or imagined) injury from you, and I retaliate with disproportionate vigor, I have paid you back "in spades."

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