- (idiomatic) to speak the truth; to say things as they really are
- Sometimes interpreted as derogatory from the sense of spade that refers to a black person. However those two expressions are etymologically unrelated; this refers to the digging instrument, and the other to the card suit.
A mistaken translation of Ancient Greek τὰ σῦκα σῦκα, τὴν σκάφην δὲ σκάφην ὀνομάσων ('calling figs figs, and a trough a trough'). The word σκάφη (skaphe, “trough”) was mistranslated by the medieval scholar Desiderius Erasmus as σκαφείον (skapheion, “digging tool”).