call a spade a spade
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”).
- (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.
- call it like one sees it
- tell it like it is
- beat around the bush, beat about the bush
- pull one's punches
- "Call a spade a spade" in Michael Quinion, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, 2004.