One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
- past and past participle of spit
1usually spatshistorical A short cloth gaiter covering the instep and ankle.
- ‘Flustered, the blonde boy untied his spats, and took off one of his sock-shoes, sort of hopping around on one foot while doing so.’
- ‘You can also take off those spats and gauntlets.’
- ‘His father was dressed in a rubber macintosh, with thick domestic gloves, spats, and a trilby hat.’
2A cover for the upper part of an aircraft wheel.
Early 19th century: abbreviation of spatterdash.
A quarrel about an unimportant matter.‘when we had our little spats, he had only to smile to get back on the right side of me’
disturbance, quarrel, scuffle, brawl, affray, tussle, melee, free-for-all, fight, clash, skirmish, brouhaha, riot, uproar, commotionView synonyms
- ‘God, how I hated to be put in the middle of their spats.’
- ‘They often had tiny spats about Maddie's aversion to anything girlish or even hinting towards being a woman.’
- ‘Sandy and I have had spats in the past, and we're going to have them going forward.’
- ‘They're typical brothers, so they get into these little spats with each other sometimes, and they separate them.’
- ‘After a year of bitter public spats with powerful group chieftains - especially in the steel and hotel businesses - Tata ousted them and installed new management.’
- ‘Occasionally, there seemed to be a personal edge to their courtroom spats.’
- ‘We've been together for 35 minutes and nary a spat yet.’
- ‘He said he believed that most inter-union spats were caused by unhappiness with the service provided, rather than active ‘poaching’ by another union.’
- ‘You guys were having another one of you lover's spats, weren't you?’
- ‘Since she moved in, most of my spats with Martin over things like dishes and toothpaste tops have virtually disappeared - she just quietly does things.’
- ‘Fay and Dave seldom fought and when they did it was usually little spats, bought on by Fay's fiery personality.’
- ‘There still were the little daily spats between them.’
- ‘It was the usual routine, after one of their spats Antony would go in angry at her, and come out groveling at her feet to take him back.’
- ‘However, eighteenth-century England was not without its religious spats.’
- ‘Almost immediately they run into a pointless spat with local tough guys that spirals into a violent feud.’
- ‘Family comes first - and petty spats and annoyances are put aside for the greater good of the Shaws.’
- ‘Soon after we met, Slater was in the papers again after his wife allegedly broke a glass over his head during a violent spat.’
- ‘After endless bickering, they overcome their spats and, together again (perhaps still drunk), fight their way to a glorious victory.’
- ‘As much as we had spats, I had to admit: the guy is great.’
- ‘Her sister never told anyone about their little spats.’
Quarrel about an unimportant matter.‘people expected him and his wife to spat continually’
quarrel, disagree, row, squabble, bicker, fight, wrangle, dispute, feud, have a row, bandy words, have words, cross swords, lock horns, be at each other's throatsView synonyms
- ‘The latest trouble to hit Airbus involves a transatlantic spat over aircraft subsidies.’
Early 19th century (originally a US colloquial usage): probably imitative.
The spawn or larvae of shellfish, especially oysters.‘oyster larvae attach themselves as spat to old shells’
Mid 17th century: from Anglo-Norman French, of unknown ultimate origin.
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