Ace in the hole

  • Ace in the hole is an idiom that has been in use since the 1880s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom ace in the hole, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


    An ace in the hole is a hidden advantage or a resource that is being held in reserve. An ace in the hole is usually something that will ensure success and comes as a surprise to others. The idiom ace in the hole comes from the game of poker. Some versions of poker involve dealing a hand of cards face up for all to see and a card face down or in the “hole” that only the player can see. The ace is the highest card in poker, and so an ace in the hole can mean a winning hand. The plural form of ace in the hole is aces in the hole.



    “All that policy deluge before even thinking about negative rates, which is arguably their ace in the hole for more rainy days, has got investors lining up for their rally bus tickets again”, he commented. (Reuters)

    “Our ace in the hole is as these pigs get too heavy for marketing, we have the option that we can change the rations and pretty much stall the pigs out on gains. ” (Pork Magazine)

    There is one other potential ace in the hole, though, for Kentucky, Texas Tech and any other teams still looking to make a notable roster move for next season: The NCAA’s vote on the transfer rule. (Sports Illustrated)

    About Grammarist
    Contact | Privacy policy | Home
    © Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist