What Does 'Having an Ace up the Sleeve' Mean?

When someone says they have 'an ace up their sleeve,' they're not usually talking about cards. Instead, this idiom means having a hidden advantage or secret plan that can be used to ensure success when the time is right. 🚀

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The Origin of 'Having an Ace up the Sleeve'

The phrase likely comes from card games where a player might secretly keep a valuable card (an ace) up their sleeve to cheat or turn the game in their favor. This has evolved into a metaphor for having a secret strategy.

Interesting Tidbits about 'Having an Ace up the Sleeve'

While it originates from potentially dishonest behavior in card playing, today it usually refers to a surprise or strategic advantage, without the dishonest connotation.

'Having an Ace up the Sleeve' in Action

Here are some examples to see how it's used:

  • Even when the negotiations seemed to fail, the lawyer had an ace up his sleeve that won the case.
  • Despite the competition, our company has an ace up the sleeve—a new product that will change the market.
  • She kept her plans to study abroad as an ace up her sleeve, surprising everyone when she got the scholarship.

When to Use 'Having an Ace up the Sleeve'

This idiom can be used in both personal and professional contexts, whenever someone has a secret plan or resource that others are not aware of.

'Having an Ace up the Sleeve' FAQs

Is 'Having an Ace up the Sleeve' a positive expression?

Yes, it generally has a positive connotation, suggesting preparedness and strategic thinking.

Can this idiom be used in formal settings?

Absolutely! It's quite versatile and can add a descriptive flair to formal discussions, especially in business or competitive scenarios.

Why is it important for ESL learners to know idioms like this?

Idioms can add color to language and help non-native speakers understand the cultural nuances of English, making conversations richer and more engaging.

Do other cultures have similar expressions?

Many languages have their own versions of expressing a hidden advantage, though the exact imagery may differ.

Ready to chat like a pro and toss around idioms like confetti? Jump into Metkagram's totally free English Idioms course and start slinging those phrases with style. Just a click and you're in! Let's get this idiom party started! 🎉

This piece reflects the expertise of Metkagram's team of linguists. Explore our language learning innovations on our LinkedIn page.

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