Trump card

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Trump card is an idiom that has its roots in a game played in the fifteenth century. 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 trump card, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A trump card is something that gives someone an advantage. Usually, a trump card is an advantage that is held in secret or saved until an opportune time. For instance, your friendship with a prospective employer’s wife may be your trump card to get a job. One is said to be holding a trump card if one is holding onto an advantage or one may be said to play a trump card, if one is using his advantage. The idiom trump card came into use around the turn of the nineteenth century, but it is related to a card game played during the 1400s, trionfi, which was an Italian card game that included a fifth suit of cards that were trump. In card playing, a trump card overrides other suits of cards to take a trick. The plural of trump card is trump cards.


As President Trump was extolling the promise of a malaria drug in the desperate hunt for coronavirus treatments, one of his top global allies was selling the world on his own “trump card,” a pale yellow pill that he said could be crucial to fighting the pandemic. (The New York Times)

Ukraine’s trump card is its agricultural and iron ore exports, which may generate additional profit and save Ukraine from worse results, Aslund said during an online conference hosted by the Kyiv Post and Ukraine’s largest private power company DTEK on April 24. (Kyiv Post)

Everybody knew Haskins held the trump card after replacing an injured Barrett and rallying the Buckeyes to victory at Michigan the previous November. (The Mansfield News Journal)