There are 2 main definitions of ace in English:

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ace 1

Pronunciation: /ās/


1A playing card with a single spot on it, ranked as the highest card in its suit in most card games: the ace of diamonds figurative life had started dealing him aces again
More example sentences
  • One recent day, search crews found an ace of diamonds playing card, a doorknob, a pair of security guard pants, a woman's black wig and a pink toothbrush.
  • You look at the cards one at a time, and pile them face up on the ace of the same suit.
  • He picked up his cards, finding the ace of diamonds he tossed it on the pile.
1.1 Golf , informal A hole in one.
Example sentences
  • He dropped in a 104-yard sand-wedge shot on the fourth hole for his second ace in less than an hour.
  • He provided the highlight on Saturday with an ace at the par three 2nd hole, his second ace in five weeks!
  • Not to be outdone, her brother, Sean, 14, made his own ace on the same hole during tournament play later that week.
2 [often with modifier] informal A person who excels at a particular sport or other activity: a motorcycle ace
More example sentences
  • The motorcycle ace won a world title on the all-powerful Honda last year and then celebrated victory by signing for the all-powerless Yamaha.
  • The Chorley ace starred alongside Olympic record holder Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean as the British team left Poland trailing by more than a second in the sprint final.
  • Lane however had their own batting aces and the Park bowlers struggled as S Hargreaves made 69 and Oliver Halliday 53.
expert, master, genius, virtuoso, maestro, adept, past master, doyen, champion, record holder, star
informal demon, hotshot, wizard, pro, whiz
informal maven, crackerjack
2.1A pilot who has shot down many enemy aircraft, especially in World War I or World War II.
Example sentences
  • The Tomahawk was also enjoying success in aerial combat and several British and Commonwealth pilots became aces while flying the aircraft.
  • Walsh was undoubtedly a hero but his experiences were also typical of many other USMC and Navy Corsair pilots - aces or not.
  • Added to this, Mint wanted to bring together Corsair pilots, aces, crewmen, and factory workers for a celebration of one of the world's most famous combat aircraft.
3(In tennis and similar games) a service that an opponent is unable to touch and thus wins a point.
Example sentences
  • She got the match off to a lightning start, opening with a love service game including two aces.
  • He finished three of his first four service games with an ace.
  • He broke his opponent's opening service game easily, and then held serve with three aces to win seven out of eight of the first points played.


Very good: an ace swimmer
More example sentences
  • People have these fantasies that we live in a world where mum and dad are both ace parents and have wonderful relationships with their children and with each other.
  • The show's got everything - ace gags, brilliant direction and those boys can ad-lib like the pros they are.
  • A peek into the world of an ace swimmer who had everything going for him until calamity came calling one day, it is the kind of brave cinema that has been making its presence felt in recent times.
excellent, first-rate, first-class, marvelous, wonderful, magnificent, outstanding, superlative, formidable, virtuoso, masterly, expert, champion, consummate, skillful, adept;
informal fab, crack, hotshot, A1, mean, demon, awesome, magic, tip-top, top-notch
killer, blue-ribbon, blue-chip, brilliant, wicked


[with object] informal
1(In tennis and similar games) serve an ace against (an opponent).
Example sentences
  • The balance and agility you gain will have you leaping above your opponents at beach-volleyball matches, acing your game on the tennis court and more.
  • He got the message, gave Gracie and me a salute, and ran back to his game, serving the ball and acing it.
  • Whether you're among the millions of players who have recently taken up tennis or a seasoned player, one of these new shoes might just help you ace your game.
1.1 Golf Score an ace on (a hole) or with (a shot).
Example sentences
  • Last Christmas Eve, father and son played Big Canyon in Newport Beach, Calif., and Tiger aced the third hole.
  • He was the fourth member of his family to ace the same hole - No.9 at Squaw Creek Country Club in Vienna, Ohio.
  • The 34-year-old former paratrooper aced the 16th hole and then birdied the last for a final round 68 and a two-stroke 14-under winning total.
1.2North American Get an A or its equivalent in (a test or exam): I aced my grammar test
More example sentences
  • Expecting to ace a test you didn't study for isn't optimism-it's dreaming!
  • You know the information inside and out, and feel ready to ace this test!
  • Any studious teen can memorize the driver's ed guidebook to ace the written exam.
1.3 (ace someone out) Outdo someone in a competitive situation: the magazine won an award, acing out its rivals it wasn’t our intention to ace Phil out of a job
More example sentences
  • Trivia buffs, fantasy leaguers and statistical fanatics will all love this book as will columnists, talk show hosts and know-it-alls looking to ace someone out of a beer or two on a proposition wager.
  • How can your competitor get away with not adding that tax and ace you out of yet another job?
  • I felt cheated when the Geologists and Petroleum Engineers aced us out of the new Cecil Green building.



an ace up one's sleeve (or in the hole)

A plan or piece of information kept secret until it becomes necessary to use it.
Example sentences
  • Also tomorrow, we have another ace up our sleeve.
  • No sane person wants to get into a ‘knife fight,’ but it's comforting to have an ace up your sleeve if trouble finds you.
  • That's why you may need an ace up your sleeve for these lavish projects: the European-style kitchen system.

hold all the aces

Have all the advantages.
Example sentences
  • The Newmarket duo will be represented by No Excuse Needed, who holds all the aces in the £80,000 Celebration Mile.
  • So why should a nation of five million be ashamed of the fact that it holds all the aces in running a country of 60 million?
  • It's there to make sure that the US is holding all the aces.

play one's ace

Use one’s best resource: deciding to play her ace, Emily showed the letter to Vic
More example sentences
  • And when men have triumphed in their arguments with women, the women play their ace: they say, as Molly Bloom did, ‘Yes.’
  • But just when it could all fall over at the last hurdle, he plays his ace.
  • When I played my ace - enlisting his family to twist his arm - he only grew more obstinate.

within an ace of

Very close to: they came within an ace of death
More example sentences
  • Even though Guthrie admits that Britain came within an ace of calling up its reservists, which would have seen 14,000 part-time soldiers of the Territorial Army in the colours, it was a move too far for Britain's European partners.
  • Tony Robinson traces the course of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, one of the most significant moments in British history, showing how newly empowered peasants came within an ace of toppling the monarchy.
  • Scottish amateur bosses and senior Sports Scotland executives came within an ace of appointing Scotland's first ever female amateur boxing supremo.


Middle English (denoting the “one” on dice): via Old French from Latin as 'unity, a unit'.

  • An ace was originally the side of a dice marked with one spot. The word comes from Latin as, meaning ‘unit’. Since an ace is the card with the highest value in many card games, the word often suggests excellence. This gave us the ace as a wartime fighter pilot who brought down many enemy aircraft, extended to anyone who excels at something. An ace up your sleeve (or in American English an ace in the hole) is a secret resource ready to use when you need it. A cheating card player might well hide an ace up their sleeve to use at an opportune moment. To hold all the aces is to have all the advantages, from a winning hand in a card game. To be within an ace of doing something is to be on the verge of doing it. This is from the ace as one and thus a tiny amount.

Words that rhyme with ace

abase, apace, backspace, base, bass, brace, case, chase, dace, efface, embrace, encase, enchase, enlace, face, grace, interlace, interspace, in-your-face, lace, mace, misplace, outface, outpace, pace, place, plaice, race, space, Thrace, trace, upper case

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ace

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There are 2 main definitions of ace in English:

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Army Corps of Engineers.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ACE

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