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trump card

[truhmp kahrd for 1; truhmp kahrd for 2] /ˈtrʌmp ˌkɑrd for 1; ˈtrʌmp ˈkɑrd for 2/
Cards. trump1 (def 1a).
Informal. something that gives one person or group the advantage over another:
The surprise witness was his trump card.
Origin of trump card
1815-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for trump-card
Historical Examples
  • The trump-card in your hand is a sight of my niece, and I'll take care you don't play it!

    No Name Wilkie Collins
  • Of late she had been to him a valuable chattel—a trump-card, by which he could extract the good things of life out of another.

    The Honorable Miss L. T. Meade
  • I saw too plainly that even though my wallet was gone I still held the trump-card—that he feared me.

    The Czar's Spy William Le Queux
  • Stillness, absolute immobility, was the trump-card to be always played in the wilderness when in doubt.

    Kings in Exile Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  • On the other hand, I had up my sleeve a trump-card—the death and cremation of the mysterious Gabrielle Engledue.

    The Stretton Street Affair William Le Queux
  • Fate had placed what seemed like a trump-card in the hands of the patiently-manoeuvring mother.

  • I saw that her curiosity was aroused and that she was eager to provide herself with a trump-card for the next meeting.

    Married August Strindberg
  • The clever, unscrupulous woman had reserved her trump-card to the last.

trump-card in Culture

trump card definition

In general, something capable of making a decisive difference when used at the right moment; in certain card games, trump is the suit designated as having precedence over the others: “The prosecutor was about to win the case, when the defense lawyer produced her trump card: an eyewitness who testified that the accused was nowhere near the scene of the crime.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with trump-card

trump card

A key resource to gain an advantage at the opportune moment, as in That surprise witness was the defense's trump card, or She played her trump card, announcing that the Senator would speak. This expression transfers the trump card of games such as bridge, which can win over a card of another suit, to other kinds of advantage. [ Early 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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