In the cards and on the cards

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The idioms in the cards and on the cards have the same meaning. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of in the cards and on the cards, where these phrases came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The expressions in the cards and on the cards describe something that is most probably going to happen, something that is destined to come to pass. In the cards is the American version of this idiom, the British version of this idiom is on the cards. The phrases in the cards and on the cards appear in the early 1800s, and are a reference to fortune telling with tarot cards or fortune telling with everyday playing cards. The phrases not in the cards and not on the cards are also used to mean that something is probably not going to happen, that something is not destined to come to pass.


It’s been a few years since he played shortstop on a regular basis, so I don’t think training him to be the primary back-up shortstop at the major-league level is in the cards. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Where he was,” the manager explained, “I don’t think it was in the cards for the 120 pitches that it was probably going to take.” (The Los Angeles Times)

Debenhams reveals further cost cuts are on the cards after revealing third profit warning of the year (The Mirror)

However, on the contrary to rumours, the film is very much on the cards and Nayanthara is expected to shoot once the producer is finalised. (The Times of India)