Definition of spate in English:



  • 1usually in singular A large number of similar things or events appearing or occurring in quick succession.

    ‘a spate of attacks on travelers’
    • ‘This autumn has seen a spate of high-profile full stops, marked by greatest-hits collections and line-up changes.’
    • ‘With greed left to take its course, a spate of scandals has erupted among foundations and charities.’
    • ‘After a spate of attacks in March and April this year, bookmakers have become increasingly successful in fending off attacks.’
    • ‘That night saw one of the most ferocious spates of rioting in living memory.’
    • ‘A spate of related movements tried to emulate his success.’
    • ‘The proposal follows a spate of food thefts from fridges around the College.’
    • ‘A spate of viruses could force carriers to beef up their customer support staffs, which would drive up prices for all users.’
    • ‘It sparked a spate of letters - so many that we've started a discussion group’
    • ‘Technology stocks took a fresh battering after a spate of US profit warnings spread gloom across world financial markets.’
    • ‘Of the sudden spate of mother-daughter movies only one contains any real surprises’
    • ‘As you all know, Mason Enterprises has been going through a spate of rough times as of late.’
    • ‘The early twentieth century witnessed a spate of father-to-father advice books and a growing body of essays and articles written by and for fathers in popular magazines.’
    • ‘Emily the Labrador disappeared in London just hours after Britain learned of a spate of dog thefts up and down the country.’
    • ‘There's been a recent spate of intimidating text message cases brought up in court.’
    series, succession, run, cluster, string, outbreak, rash, epidemic, explosion, plague, wave, flurry, rush, flood, deluge, torrent, outpouring
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  • 2British A sudden flood in a river, especially one caused by heavy rains or melting snow.

    • ‘As the river rapidly went into full spate, the ice blue turned chocolate brown and became unfishable.’


  • in (full) spate

    • 1(of a river) overflowing due to a sudden flood.

      • ‘Many of the local rivers were in spate especially the Owveg River.’
      • ‘Not long ago, one used to spot plaques in many parts of the city, depicting the highest flood level of the river in spate.’
      • ‘Should the river be swollen in spate, it is one of the best places in Scotland to witness the true magic of the spectacular leaping antics of the genuine wild Atlantic salmon.’
      • ‘Mr Gupta said heavy rainfall and rivers in spate had caused several areas to become inundated with water.’
      swollen, congested
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      1. 1.1(of a person or action) at the height of activity.
        ‘work was in full spate’
        • ‘By then Stalin's terror was in full spate.’
        • ‘The sexual revolution was in full spate.’
        • ‘There are very few occasions as exhilarating as a youth orchestra in full spate.’


Late Middle English (originally Scots and northern English in the sense ‘flood, inundation’): of unknown origin.