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”).
call a spade a spade
- (idiomatic) to speak the truth; to say things as they really are
- Maybe God just calls a spade a spade, when the president talks to God. - Bright Eyes, When the President Talks to God — 2005
Usage notes 
- 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.
See also 
- "Call a spade a spade" in Michael Quinion, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, 2004.