Try Our Apps


What is the origin of "February"?

ace in the hole

Poker. an ace dealt and held face down, especially in stud poker.
an advantage or a resource kept back until the proper opportunity presents itself:
His ace in the hole is his political influence.
Origin of ace in the hole
1920-25, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for ace-in-the-hole
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • ace-in-the-hole wouldn't never stayed in there an' burnt up!

    Snowdrift James B. Hendryx
  • ace-in-the-hole, prince of gamblers, was betting himself—with the odds against him!

    Snowdrift James B. Hendryx
ace-in-the-hole in Culture

ace in the hole definition

A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed: “The coach was certain that his new trick play would turn out to be his ace in the hole.” This term comes from the game of stud poker, in which one or more cards are turned face down, or “in the hole,” as bets are placed. The ace is the card with the highest value.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for ace-in-the-hole

ace in the hole

noun phrase

Something held privately in reserve until needed, esp for a winning stroke; a hidden reserve or advantage

[fr poker term in the hole for a card dealt face down in a stud game]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with ace-in-the-hole

ace in the hole

A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed, as in The prosecutor had an ace in the hole: an eyewitness. The term comes from stud poker, where each player is dealt one card face down—the so-called hole card—and the rest face up. Should the hole card be an ace, the player has a hidden advantage. Hole here simply means “a hiding place.” In the 19th-century American West, the expression was used to refer to a hidden weapon, such as a gun concealed in a shoulder holster. By the 1920s it had become a metaphor for any surprise advantage or leverage.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for ace in the hole

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for ace

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for ace-in-the-hole