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|Meaning||to call a spade a spade, to tell it like it is, to speak plainly|
|Literally||to call a cat a cat|
|Pronunciation||[ah peu lay oo(n) shah oo(n) shah]|
|IPA||[a pə le œ̃ ʃa œ̃ ʃa]|
Usage notes: Euphemisms have their uses and avoiding certain topics can be diplomatic, but sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade or, as the French say, appeler un chat un chat. Using precise language is sometimes the best thing you can do to get your point across.
|Tu as raté l’examen parce qu’il était difficile, ou bien parce que tu n’as pas étudié ? Allez, appelle un chat un chat !||You failed the test because it was hard, or because you didn’t study? Come on, be honest about it!|
|Il n’a pas faim ? Appelons un chat un chat, il n’aime pas ma cuisine !||He’s not hungry? Let’s call a spade a spade, he just doesn’t like my cooking!|
The expression "to call a spade a spade," in which "spade" refers to a sturdy shovel, has been around since the 1540s, long before the word was first used as a racist slur in 1928.
Source: Online Etymology Dictionary