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I found this expression curt and powerful. But I also understand it's offensive to someone, and somehow, has a racist implication.

Is there a similar curt and powerful expression I can use without offending anybody?

marked as duplicate by herisson, Jim, Mari-Lou A, Laurel, Cascabel May 14 '17 at 20:36

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  • Some context would be useful. – michael.hor257k May 14 '17 at 16:10
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    Ironically, the original author (can't remember who) from long ago had zero racial implications whatsoever when he said that. The original quote says something like "Call a spade a spade and a niggard a niggard". Niggard is an archaic term for a stingy or ungenerous person and has nothing to do with black people or the N-Word. But over the years this has been mistakenly viewed as a racist term and by association, so has spade. I know this doesn't answer the OP's request for an alternative expression, but I thought the background was interesting to share. – iMerchant May 14 '17 at 16:17
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    You may have found it curt and powerful, but you also found it incorrect. The actual expression is a fixed phrase and contains only indefinite articles. I.e, calling a spade a spade is correct; the spade is not. – John Lawler May 14 '17 at 16:18
  • I've often heard "calling a spade a fucking shovel". – Hot Licks May 14 '17 at 18:10
  • I don't think there is a black or white answer in regards to the possible offense. That being said, asking for alternatives seems a reasonable request regardless of the reason. – Tom22 May 14 '17 at 18:10

Telling it like it is is an informal idiom that has gained popularity lately, I think.


You should be able to use "straight talk" as an alternative.


straight talk
Simple, honest speaking.

call a spade a spade
(idiomatic) To speak the truth; to say things as they really are.

Also, couple of other idioms (using the word "straight"): "straight from the shoulder" & "give it to someone straight".


straight from the shoulder (American)
if you speak straight from the shoulder, you speak directly and honestly
I gave it to him straight from the shoulder. 'You're talking garbage,' I said. (American)

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission.

give it to someone (straight) to tell something to someone clearly and directly.
Come on, give it to me straight. I want to know exactly what happened.
Quit wasting time, and tell me. Give it to me straight.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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