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 quantity, 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.
American Council on Education.
Army Corps of Engineers.
Contemporary Examples

Doug Chrismas, owner of ace Gallery, had realized what curators had missed.
Remembering My Friend Dennis Caroline Graham May 28, 2010

He played his ace of being the first African-American president against her hopes to be the queen of clubs.
Why Hillary Lashed Out Tina Brown August 11, 2009

He is getting ready to watch Jack Morris, the Tigers ace, go for win number nineteen against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Elmore Leonard’s Rocky Road to Fame and Fortune Mike Lupica September 12, 2014

Her newest book, Dead and Gone was released by ace Hardcover this month.
Charlaine Harris’s Book Picks Charlaine Harris May 25, 2009

She had been seeking not only access to the presentation materials, but also a list of ace members who attended the webinar.
Colleges Lawyer Up Before Claire McCaskill Rape Inquiry Emily Shire June 5, 2014

Historical Examples

But he was secretly resolved if ace drew a bad one, to exercise his parental authority.
Unexplored! Allen Chaffee

And I was within an ace of becoming an ornament of the British peerage.
The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark

There was that affair of Lucy West, he had to bring that to light, and old Darcy was within an ace of disinheriting me.
Norine’s Revenge; Sir Noel’s Heir May Agnes Fleming

And, besides, I might very well have won, for I still had an ace left.’
Abbe Mouret’s Transgression Emile Zola

Hollister had showing a deuce of hearts, a trey of clubs, an ace of spades, and a four of hearts.
The Fighting Edge William MacLeod Raine

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.


: 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]

1. Advanced Computing Environment.
2. Adaptive Communication Environment.
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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