a playing card or die marked with or having the value indicated by a single spot:
he dealt me four aces in the first hand.
a single spot or mark on a playing card or die.

also called service ace. a placement made on a service.
any placement.
a serve that the opponent fails to touch.
the point thus scored.

a fighter pilot credited with destroying a prescribed number or more of enemy aircraft, usually five, in combat.
a very skilled person; expert; adept:
an ace at tap dancing.
slang. a one-dollar bill.
slang. a close friend.

also called hole in one. a shot in which the ball is driven from the tee into the hole in one stroke:
he hit a 225-yard ace on the first hole.
a score of one stroke made on such a shot:
to card an ace.

slang. a barbiturate or amphetamine capsule or pill.
a very small quant-ty, amount, or degree; a particle:
not worth an ace.
slang. a grade of a; the highest grade or score.
(in tennis, badminton, handball, etc.) to win a point against (one’s opponent) by an ace.
golf. to make an ace on (a hole).
slang. to cheat, defraud, or take advantage of (often followed by out):
to be aced out of one’s inheritance; a friend who aced me out of a good job.

to receive a grade of a, as on a test or in a course (sometimes followed by out).
to complete easily and successfully:
he aced every physical fitness test they gave him.

excellent; first-rate; outstanding.
ace it, slang. to accomplish something with complete success:
a champion who could ace it every time.
ace up one’s sleeve, an important, effective, or decisive argument, resource, or advantage kept in reserve until needed.
be aces with, slang. to be highly regarded by:
the boss says you’re aces with him.
easy aces, auction bridge. aces equally divided between opponents.
within an ace of, within a narrow margin of; close to:
he came within an ace of winning.
contemporary examples

he aces it, of course, and the commentator asks, “was that a secret message?”
fainting, confusion, screams: the 9 best spelling bee stumpers (video) anna kl-ssen may 30, 2012

it might not be museum-quality, but as populist art, this show is aces.
bravo’s addictive ‘work of art’ jace lacob november 29, 2011

there are good shots, bad shots, aces, volleys, and certain times when one side seems to have taken the lead.
inside the trial of dr. conrad murray amy ephron october 8, 2011

jones, it should be said, is also aces as the unfulfilled housewife (a role she plays very convincingly on mad men).
ethan hawke’s ‘good kill’: a searing indictment of america’s drone warfare obsession marlow stern september 5, 2014

clearly, the moms of weeds, while aces with pointed one-liners, could still stand to sharpen those parenting skills.
smoking weeds shawna malcom september 17, 2009

historical examples

with two trumps and two aces, lead trumps as early as possible, if your opponents have not done so for you.
the laws of euchre h. c. leeds

“aces and sevens, gamblers,” i grinned, reaching for the pot.
card trick walter bupp aka randall garrett

certainly you could: there were only three tricks left, and you had two aces of trumps.
monsieur cherami charles paul de k-ck

a man with a pair of kings compelling three aces to see before the draw!
the house of pride jack london

with frantic eagerness monty grovelled down to see them—then with a shriek of triumph he threw down a pair of aces.
a millionaire of yesterday e. phillips oppenheim

any die, domino, or any of four playing cards with one spot
a single spot or pip on a playing card, die, etc
(tennis) a winning serve that the opponent fails to reach
(golf, mainly us) a hole in one
a fighter pilot accredited with destroying several enemy aircraft
(informal) an expert or highly skilled person: an ace at driving
an ace up one’s sleeve, an ace in the hole, a hidden and powerful advantage
hold all the aces, to have all the advantages or power
play one’s ace, to use one’s best weapon or resource
within an ace of, almost to the point of: he came within an ace of winning
(informal) superb; excellent
verb (transitive)
(tennis) to serve an ace against
(golf, mainly us) to play (a hole) in one stroke
(us & canadian) to perform extremely well or score very highly in (an examination, etc)
noun acronym
(in britain) advisory centre for education; a private organization offering advice on schools to parents
allied command europe
angiotensin-converting enzyme see ace inhibitor

c.1300, “one at dice,” from old french as “one at dice,” from latin as “a unit, one, a whole, unity;” also the name of a small roman coin (“originally one pound of copper; reduced by depreciation to half an ounce” [lewis]), perhaps originally etruscan and related to greek eis “one” (from pie -sem- “one, as one”), or directly from the greek word.

in english, it meant the side of the die with only one mark before it meant the playing card with one pip (1530s). because this was the lowest roll at dice, ace was used metaphorically in middle english for “bad luck” or “something of no value;” but as the ace is often the highest playing card, the extended senses based on “excellence, good quality” arose 18c. as card-playing became popular. ace in the hole in the figurative sense of “concealed advantage” is attested from 1904, from crooked stud poker deals.

meaning “outstanding pilot” dates from 1917 (technically, in world war i aviators’ jargon, one who has brought down 10 enemy planes, though originally in reference to 5 shot down), from french l’ace (1915), which, according to bruce robertson (ed.) “air aces of the 1914-1918 war” was used in prewar french sporting publications for “top of the deck” boxers, cyclists, etc. sports meaning of “point scored” (1819) led to that of “unreturnable serve” (1889).

“to score” (in sports), 1923, from ace (n.). this led in turn to the extended student slang sense of “get high marks” (1959). related: aced; acing.


of the very best quality; superior; finest: i said it in this very sincere voice. ”you’re aces.”


: he did it ace every time


: an ace mechanic/ the ace professor


a person of extraordinary skill, usually in a specified activity: poker ace/ the ace of headwaiters
a combat pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft (wwi)
an unusually pleasant, generous, and decent person, esp a male; prince
a very close friend; buddy, pal (black & street gang)
a man who favors flamboyant, up-tothe-minute dress; dude (black)
a marijuana cigarette; joint
a dollar bill
a hole scored in one stroke (golf)
an unreturnable serve that scores a quick point (racquet games)
a table for one; also, a single customer (restaurant)
a grilled cheese sandwich (lunch counter);


to score by an ace: he aced the fifth hole/ she aced him six times in one set (sports)
(also ace out) to make a perfect or nearly perfect score: my sister aced the chemistry exam/ ace the test and you go on to the next subject (college students)

related terms

come within an ace, cool as a christian with aces wired

[fr the name of the playing card]
adaptation controlled environment system
access control entry
american council on education
angiotensin-converting enzyme
army corps of engineering

ace in the hole
ace it
ace out

also see:

hold all the aces
within an ace of

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