- a sudden, almost overwhelming, outpouring: a spate of angry words.
- a flood or inundation.
- a river flooding its banks.
- a sudden or heavy rainstorm.
early 15c., originally Scottish and northern English, "a sudden flood, especially one caused by heavy rains or a snowmelt," of unknown origin. Perhaps from O.Fr. espoit "flood," from Du. spuiten "to flow, spout;" related to spout. Figurative sense of "unusual quantity" is attested from 1610s.
"The Louveteau River was in spate; bushes and trees torn up by the roots eddied and snagged."
- Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin