ace up his sleeve


      • having a secret advantage
        To have a hidden resource or plan that can be used to gain an advantage in a situation, often in a deceptive or unfair way

    Examples of ace up his sleeve

    • The politician had an ace up his sleeve during the debate. He knew exactly what to say to turn the tables on his opponent.

      This idiom is used to describe someone who has a secret plan or strategy that they are keeping hidden until the right moment. In this example, the politician has a powerful argument or piece of information that he is keeping hidden until he needs it to win the debate.

    • The magician pulled an ace out of his sleeve as part of his magic trick.

      In this example, the magician is using the idiom literally to describe how he is revealing a card that he had been hiding up his sleeve during the trick.

    • The writer had an ace up her sleeve in the form of a surprise twist in her novel that no one saw coming.

      Here, the writer is using the idiom figuratively to describe a secret element that she has added to her book that will take readers by surprise.

    • The teacher had an ace up his sleeve in the form of a bonus assignment that he announced at the end of the semester to help his star students stand out.

      This example shows how the idiom can also be used to describe a secret advantage that someone has over others. In this case, the teacher has a special assignment that will benefit his top-performing students and help them stand out from the rest of the class.

    • The magician kept an ace up his sleeve as he made the cards disappear and reappear.

      This idiom means that the magician had a secret trick that he was hiding, possibly a winning card, that he would reveal at a later time. In this case, the magician concealed the ace (a valuable card in poker) in his sleeve as he performed his card tricks, saving it for a finale or something unexpected.

    • The politician had an ace up his sleeve when it came to dealing with his opponents.

      In this context, the politician had a hidden strategy or secret plan that he could present when faced with difficult situations or tough competition. This idiom is often used to suggest that someone has a secret advantage or tactic that they have been keeping quiet about.

    • The artist had an ace up his sleeve when he added a surprise element to his performance.

      Here, the artist could have concealed something unexpected or unique in his performance, such as a sudden song or dance, that he revealed at the end or during a climactic moment. This idiom is commonly used in reference to a surprising twist in a situation or event.

    • The chef kept an ace up his sleeve when he came up with a new and innovative dish for his customers.

      This idiom is being used here to indicate that the chef had a unique and exceptional dish hidden in his repertoire which he could present to his customers when they least expected it, creating a surprise and delighting his guests.


    The idiom "ace up his sleeve" is used to describe someone who has a hidden advantage or secret plan. It is often used to imply that the person is being deceptive or unfair by not revealing their true capabilities or intentions. This idiom can be used in various contexts, such as in business, sports, or personal relationships, to suggest that someone is not being completely honest or transparent about their abilities or strategies.

    In essence, when someone has an "ace up their sleeve," they are keeping something in reserve that gives them an advantage over others, and they may use it at a strategic moment to outperform or outwit their competitors.

    Origin of "ace up his sleeve"

    The origin of the idiom "ace up his sleeve" dates back to the practice of cheating in card games. In the past, some gamblers would hide an ace (the highest value card) up their sleeve to use it to their advantage during a game. This deceptive tactic allowed them to have an extra card that their opponents were not aware of, giving them an unfair advantage. Over time, the expression "ace up his sleeve" evolved to represent any hidden advantage or secret plan that someone may have. The idiom has since become a common phrase used to describe someone who possesses a secret resource or strategy that gives them an edge in a given situation.