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.
‹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.
‹informal› a hole in one.
• his hole in one at the 15th was Senior’s second ace as a professional.
‹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.
[Golf] score an ace on (a hole) or with (a shot).
• there was a prize for the first player to ace the hole.
(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’.