ACE IN THE HOLE, ACE UP (ONE’S) SLEEVE, and ACHILLES’ HEEL: American English Idioms #1

Welcome to American English Idioms: Lesson 1. In this lesson you have 3 American English idioms to read, listen to, translate, and pronounce in English. Please focus and do your best so that you can learn and improve your knowledge of American English idioms. Don’t forget to use the comments section below to share your thoughts and what you’ve learned today.

Directions 1: Watch the video 2 or more times, and pay close attention to the audio and text.

Directions 2: Read the following text in English, then translate it using the translator on this page into your language if needed. When you finish, feel free to write a comment in the comments section below and let us know how you feel about what you’ve learned, as well as what you’ve learned.

ACE IN THE HOLE a hidden but effective means of winning a conflict

This term has been used to describe the use of any tactic in order to produce results. It is often seen in poker games, where one player may have position over another, where he or she conceals his hole card until the time when it might be most powerful to reveal it.

ACE in the hole is a device that gives a person an advantage in a conflict. This is usually by revealing information that threatens the opponent’s plan or position. The formula for this device is often to withhold key information which can then be revealed at key moments. By withholding this information, as well as any other strategies, the opponent will be unprepared and outmatched.

1. The other team thinks they can win this basketball game, but that’s only because we haven’t put our best player in yet. He’s our ace in the hole.

2. It looked like the politician would lose the debate until he brought up his ace in the hole, an argument that nobody could refute.

The expression originates from some forms of the card game poker, in which players have both community cards and private (“hole”) cards in their hands. To have an ace in one’s private hand means that one can win the game without others suspecting ahead of time.

ACE UP (ONE’S) SLEEVE to have an effective but hidden means to accomplish something

It means: Doing something with the intention to deceive someone; to get away with doing something easy.

The idiom is a reference to a figurative way of turning up one’s sleeve in order to blind someone, or find a hidden means of accomplishing something. This phrase is a reference to the figurative gesture of pulling up the sleeve of one’s shirt.

1. It looks like Joanne is going to lose, but I wouldn’t be too sure. She may have an ace up her sleeve.

2. No matter how many times I think Paul might lose to me in a game of chess, he never does. He always has an ace up his sleeve and wins every game.

The expression originates from card games like poker, in which players might hide an extra ace up their sleeves to use in case they were losing the game and wanted to cheat.

ACHILLES’ HEEL a person’s weakness or the vulnerable spot in his or her character

Achilles’ heel is weakness of character. It can be caused by any number of causes, both internal and external, but in some cases it is simply due to bad luck or accident.

Human beings are often described as their own worst enemy because of their flaws, which guarantee defeat. A classic example of this is the mythical hero Achilles, who was vulnerable to being killed by an arrow in his heel because that spot was not protected by armor.

1. We’ve got to find his Achilles’ heel if we hope to defeat him.

2. John appears to be a highly respected citizen, but I’m sure he has his Achilles’ heel.

Achilles was a figure in Greek mythology who was invulnerable in battle except for his heel. It was the one weak spot on his body.

3 thoughts on “ACE IN THE HOLE, ACE UP (ONE’S) SLEEVE, and ACHILLES’ HEEL: American English Idioms #1”

  1. Hi, this is samir from India 🇮🇳I am very happy to join this American English idioms. Com I am learning a lot from your way of teaching Thank you so much saresa sir 🙏😊

  2. We would like that Iraqi politician loses the election while October revolutionaries win like ASE IN THE HOLE , that is Iraqi dream because we have rich country but more people are poor because politician corruption .

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