‘Call a spade a spade’

Meaning: To speak frankly and straightforwardly, even if the subject matter is unpleasant

Explanation: This term is thought to have originated in Greece. A character in a play by dramatist Menander says, “I call a fig a fig, and a spade a spade.”  It came into English in the 1500s, and appears in a translation of Plutarch’s Apophthegmata, albeit with a slightly different meaning: “They whiche had not the witte to calle a spade by any other name than a spade.”

Example:He’s respected because he says what needs to be said – he calls a spade a spade.