early 15c., "stab with a sword, kill," also "remove the ovaries of (a hunting dog)," from Anglo-French espeier "cut with a sword," Old French espeer, espaer, from espee "sword" (Modern French épée), from Latin spatha "broad, flat weapon or tool," from Greek spathē "broad blade" (see spade (n.1)). Related: Spayed; spaying.
black figure on playing cards," 1590s, probably from Italian spade, plural of spada "the ace of spades," literally "sword, spade," from Latin spatha "broad, flat weapon or tool," from Greek spathe "broad blade" (see spade (n.1)). Phrase in spades "in abundance" first recorded 1929 (Damon Runyon), probably from bridge, where spades are the highest-ranking suit.
The invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes. [O.Henry, "Cabbages & Kings," 1904]
Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol.