Cards have been a popular form of entertainment for centuries, and the games played with them have inspired a rich array of idiomatic expressions in many languages.
Card games, such as poker, bridge, and gin rummy, have developed their own distinct vocabulary, filled with colorful and imaginative expressions that have become part of our everyday language.
These card idioms offer a creative and engaging way of describing a variety of human experiences and emotions, from the thrill of winning to the feeling of being cheated.
In this post, we will explore some of the most interesting and widely used card idioms, examining their meanings and origins, and discovering the valuable insights they offer for everyday communication.
Through these idioms, we can gain a richer understanding of how our language is shaped by the games we play and the experiences we have, and how they can offer a unique way of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.
27 Card Idioms And Sayings (Meaning & Examples)
1. Dance Card
- Meaning: a list of dance partners that a woman has danced with at a party or similar event.
- Use In A Sentence: I can’t remember who I danced the first dance with. Didn’t you write down their name on your dance card?
2. Hole Card
- Meaning: a secret advantage that you wait to use at the right moment.
- Use In A Sentence: When everyone thought he was about to lose, he played his hole card and won first place.
3. To Be Several Cards Short Of A Full Deck
- Meaning: an expression used to describe a person who is not very intelligent or not all there.
- Use In A Sentence: What do you think of the new guy? Well, let’s just say, he is several cards short of a full deck.
4. Card Out
- Meaning: to punch out of work with a magnetic identity card.
- Use In A Sentence: I had to go tell the manager that I forgot to card out last night. Do you remember what time I left?
- Meaning: a type of identity theft in which credit card or bank information is stolen and then sold.
- Use In A Sentence: I am afraid to use my debit card because I don’t want to be a victim of some carding scheme.
6. Drawing Card
- Meaning: an event that attracts a lot of people.
- Use In A Sentence: The famous comedian was the drawing card for the 3-night cruise.
7. Get Your Cards
- Meaning: (British English) to be fired from a job.
- Use In A Sentence: I am afraid after making a huge accounting mistake, my boss will give me my cards.
8. To Go In With Good Cards
- Meaning: to undertake a task with good reason that one is going to succeed.
- Use In A Sentence: Since the CEO of the company is a friend of a friend, I feel like I am going in with good cards for my job interview.
9. To Have A Card Up One’s Sleeve
- Meaning: to have a secret advantage that one can play when ready. It is like in poker and a player hides a card up his sleeve until the perfect moment.
- Use In A Sentence: I have a card up my sleeve if he tries to deny the truth.
10. To Hold All The Aces/Cards/Trumps
- Meaning: to be in a controlling position.
- Use In A Sentence: I can’t win. She is holding all the aces and she knows it.
11. A House Of Cards
- Meaning: a plan or an organization is going to fail. Similar to building a house out of playing cards. With very little effort it will fall over.
- Use In A Sentence: So your plan is to sell 80 percent of the products to men? That sounds like a house of cards to me. We all know women are real shoppers.
12. To Keep Your Cards Close To Your Chest
- Meaning: to not telling anyone what you are intending to do. To keep your plans secret.
- Use In A Sentence: He keeps his cards close to his chest, I don’t know if he is going to move abroad or not.
13. To Lay One’s Cards On The Table
- Meaning: to reveal something that has been kept a secret. To Be open and honest about one’s opinion.
- Use In A Sentence: I am going to go in there, lay all my cards down on the table and tell him how I truly feel.
14. To Play Your Ace
- Meaning: to use your best resource in order to get an advantage in a situation.
- Use In A Sentence: The lawyer then played his ace by calling for testimony from the key witness.
15. To Play One’s Cards Right
- Meaning: to make the best use of the resources at your disposal.
- Use In A Sentence: If you play your cards right, you could land this business deal.
16. To Play The Race Card
- Meaning: to bring up the issue of race in order to get an advantage or to discredit the other person.
- Use In A Sentence: I am not surprised. They love to play the race card.
17. To Show One’s Cards
- Meaning: to make one’s plans or intentions known to others.
- Use In A Sentence: When you go in to make a business deal. Don’t show your cards right away. Wait and see what they are willing to offer you first.
18. To Stack The Cards Against Someone
- Meaning: to give somebody an unfair advantage over another person.
- Use In A Sentence: Even though the cards were stacked against them, they pulled off the win.
19. The Cards Are Stacked In One’s Favor
- Meaning: there are some existing circumstances or conditions that will help a person be successful.
- Use In A Sentence: With her experience and connections, the cards are stacked in her favor. She shouldn’t have any problem getting that job.
20. Wild Card
- Meaning: used to refer to someone who is unpredictable.
- Use In A Sentence: She is such a wild card. It is hard to say who she will vote for.
21. To Shuffle The Cards
- Meaning: to change the policy or direction of an organization.
- Use In A Sentence: The new CEO said the first thing he wants to do is shuffle the cards.
22. To Mark One’s Cards
- Meaning: to give someone information. To tip one off.
- Use In A Sentence: On my first day, a co-worker marked my card by telling me to be careful around the new manager. He is a micromanager and likes things done a certain way.
23. To Be Carded
- Meaning: to be asked to show your ID to prove you are old enough to buy alcohol, etc.
- Use In A Sentence: The new law requires that all customers buying alcohol must be carded.
24. Lucky At Cards, Unlucky At Love
- Meaning: used to refer to a person who is very successful when it comes to doing business, and yet find it difficult to pursue romantic relationships.
- Use In A Sentence: James has climbed the corporate ladder very quickly and yet, he can’t find himself a wife. Lucky at cards, unlucky at love I guess.
25. To Speak By The Card
- Meaning: to speak with accuracy.
- Use In A Sentence: When public speaking it is important to speak by the card. This will help your audience to trust you.
26. Calling Card
- Meaning: a special skill that sets a person apart from others.
- Use In A Sentence: His ability to negotiate is his calling card in the business world.
27. Idiot Card
- Meaning: a large card that tells people on TV exactly what to say.
- Use In A Sentence: Jimmy said he doesn’t need an idiot card, he has his speech memorized.
In a world where communication has become increasingly important, the language we use plays a vital role in how we express ourselves and connect with others.
Card idioms offer a unique way of expressing human experiences and emotions through language, and have become an integral part of our daily communication.
From “holding all the cards” to “playing your cards right,” these idiomatic expressions remind us that life is often a game of strategy and chance, and that success often depends on how we navigate the challenges we face.
By mastering the art of using card idioms, we can not only improve our language skills but also gain valuable insights into human behavior and interaction, and ultimately, increase our chances of “winning the game” of life.
There you have it! 27 Card Idioms! Which one is your favorite?