WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
spade•work /ˈspeɪdˌwɜrk/USA pronunciation   n. [uncountable]
  1. work, such as the gathering of data, done in preparation for further action:The detective began the spadework of looking through all the old documents for clues.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
spade•work  (spādwûrk′),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. preliminary or initial work, such as the gathering of data, on which further activity is to be based.
  • spade1 + work 1770–80


Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

spadework /ˈspeɪdˌwɜːk/ n
  1. dull or routine preparatory work



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