ace /eɪs/

a

I. noun

1. a playing card with a single spot on it, ranked as the highest card in its suit in most card games

the ace of diamonds

‹figurative› life had started dealing him aces again.

2.
‹informal› a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity

a motorcycle ace.
3. a pilot who has shot down many enemy aircraft.

a Battle of Britain ace.
4. (in tennis and similar games) a service that an opponent is unable to return and thus wins a point.

Nadal banged down eight aces in the set.
5.
[Golf]
‹informal› a hole in one.

his hole in one at the 15th was Senior’s second ace as a professional.
II. adjective


‹informal› very good

an ace swimmer
[as exclamation]
Ace! You’ve done it!
III. verb [with obj.]

1.
‹informal› (in tennis and similar games) serve an ace against (an opponent).

he can ace opponents with serves of no more than 62 mph.
2.
‹informal›
[Golf] score an ace on (a hole) or with (a shot).

there was a prize for the first player to ace the hole.
3.
‹informal›
(N. Amer.) achieve high marks in (a test or exam)

I aced my grammar test.
4. ( ace someone out)
‹informal› outdo someone in a competitive situation.

the magazine won an award, acing out its rivals.
IV. phrases

1. an ace up one’s sleeve ( ‹or N. Amer.› in the hole)
a plan or piece of information kept secret until it becomes necessary to use it.

the prime minister has several other aces up his sleeve.
2. hold all the aces
have all the advantages.

he held all the aces: he was the Director, he could lecture on whomever he liked.
3. play one’s ace
use one’s best resource

deciding to play her ace, Emily showed the letter to Vic.
4. within an ace of

(Brit.) very close to

they came within an ace of death.
– origin Middle English (denoting the ‘one’ on dice): via Old French from Latin as ‘unity, a unit’.

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