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.


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.

ACE in the hole is an idiom which describes a person or thing that has a single chance of success, and may be used to describe a last resort.

An American card game called ace-in-the-hole dates back to at least 1850, and may refer to the ability of the best card in one’s hand to win if played right. The idiom is thought to have been coined during the Prohibition era when people would play poker while drinking alcohol illicitly.

An ace or a hole is a card dealt to or held by the player. If the player is dealt an ace, they have “ace in the hole” and can later use this card to represent any other suit without having to draw another card.


The phrase ACE UP (ONE’S) SLEEVE means to prepare for a tough situation or provide one with the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience in advance. The phrase derives from the practice of wearing one’s coat sleeve rolled up to provide extra protection from rain. In recent years, people have been using the phrase more commonly in reference to preparing for a difficult task.

One of the most common and well-known practices in academia is an expression known as “ace up one’s sleeve,” which is a figurative term meaning to save something for later. This phrase typically applies to academics because while we may not always know what point we want to make, we will often have some information that we plan on revealing at a later time.

ACE UP ONE’S SLEEVE is a term that means to reveal one’s cards in a poker game, usually when gambling with an opponent who has been successful. In other words, the ACE UP ONE’S SLEEVE strategy is used when it’s necessary to admit to an error or flaw. This strategy is often used when trying to avoid conflict or confrontation by revealing personal information.

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.


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.

In Ancient Greek mythology, Achilles’ heel is a metaphor for a physical or emotional weakness. The story refers to an incident from the Trojan War where, in order to single-handedly kill Achilles, the god Hephaestus forged a sword with only one vulnerable spot – the heel.

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.

The Achilles heel is a metaphor that can be used to represent the most vulnerable part of an individual’s, or team’s, system. It is also often used as a synonym for strength.

12 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 🙏😊

    1. Hi, I’m Rafika from Algeria, so excited to improve my English with you, specialy with your great way of teaching. Goodluck for all.

  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 .

  3. sorry, I should write the Idiom like this, I should ace my sleeves up to have a good exam.
    If this is wrong please tell me.
    Thank you

    1. Taiba, we don’t use this idiom as a verb, but as a noun. Example, “My knowledge of English is an ace up my sleeves for my job interview.”

  4. lesson 4.1.1. American English lesson
    American English idioms.
    I think if we want to speak English fluently, just like a native speaker, it is important that we learn English idioms. I have got following three idioms.
    1) Ace in the hole: A major advantage or resource that one keeps hidden or reserve until an ideal time or needed. The phrase originated in poker, in which an ace is the most valuable card. For example, their marketing strategy has an ace in the hole.
    2) Ace up one’s sleeves: The meaning of Ace up one’s sleeves is a powerful and often secret weapon, advantage, etc., that can be used if it is needed or required. For example, her stamina is the ace up her sleeves for the race.
    3) Achilles’ heel: a fault or weakness that causes someone or something to fail. for example, i am trying to lose weight, but ice-cream is my Achilles’ heels.

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