There are 2 main definitions of deal in English:


Line breaks: deal
Pronunciation: /diːl

verb (past and past participle dealt /dɛlt/)

1 [with object] Distribute (cards) in an orderly rotation to players for a game or round: the cards were dealt for the last hand [with two objects]: figurative fate dealt her a different hand [no object]: he shuffled and dealt
More example sentences
  • In this casino banking game three cards are dealt to each player and two face down to the dealer.
  • The cards will be dealt by the player on declarer's left, and cut by the player opposite to declarer.
  • Next, a third hole card is dealt to each player, followed by another round of betting.
distribute, give out, share out, divide out, divide up, hand out, pass out, pass round, dole out, mete out, dispense, allocate, allot, assign, apportion, bestow
informal divvy up
1.1 (deal someone in) Include a new player in a card game by giving them cards.
More example sentences
  • Adam gave Rocky an annoyed look, but gathered the cards to deal him in.
  • Europe says deal us in: despite record dollar vs. euro rates, or perhaps because of them, there are some unusual deals and low prices for rooms in parts of Europe.
  • We would have dealt them in a different time, I think.
1.2Distribute or mete out (something) to a person or group: the punishments dealt out to the rioters were hideous
More example sentences
  • Children were pulled out of their seats by their hair and beatings with the leather belt were dealt out to all.
  • The same treatment is dealt out to a young mother, who has given birth out of wedlock, and to a pretty young temptress, merely because it is felt that her blossoming good looks may undermine her future.
  • The stakes were upped last Monday when the consequences of last summer's direct action protest were dealt out at Dingwall Sheriff Court.
2 [no object] Take part in commercial trading of a particular commodity: directors were prohibited from dealing in the company’s shares
More example sentences
  • Companies dealing in commodities, for instance, still find quality and price the foremost factors in attracting customers.
  • Since their arrival in Europe, Roma have been self-employed artisans, entertainers, and middle men dealing in various commodities.
  • The bank hopes that it will attract potential customers like wholesalers and retailers dealing in commodity trading, white goods and automobiles.
trade in, buy and sell, be concerned with trading, be engaged in trading, do business in;
sell, vend, purvey, supply, stock, offer, offer for sale, have for sale, peddle, market, merchandise;
traffic in, smuggle, run, rustle
informal push
British informal flog
2.1Be concerned with: journalism that deals in small-town chit-chat
More example sentences
  • It chiefly concerns one Alex-Li Tandem, who deals in fame, obtaining, verifying and selling autographs.
  • He would not learn here that the law deals in objective truth, that it is concerned with fact.
  • Hollywood deals in illusions, Arnold has always sought the truth, and that is why her famous pictures of Marilyn Monroe feel like glimpses of a living woman rather than coldly iconic memorials.
concern, be about, be concerned with, concern itself with, have to do with, discuss, consider, cover, treat of, pertain to, appertain to;
archaic regard
2.2 informal Buy and sell illegal drugs: you are suspected of dealing in drugs [with object]: many of the men are dealing drugs
More example sentences
  • During questioning, both agents admitted to the offence and told officers they'd been dealing in the illegal drugs for a long time.
  • People caught dealing marijuana, or using or dealing most other drugs still face stiff criminal penalties.
  • My parents have come to the conclusion that Rich deals and sells drugs.
3 [no object] (deal with) Take measures concerning (someone or something), especially with the intention of putting something right: the government had been unable to deal with the economic crisis
More example sentences
  • Every once in a while a coach must deal with issues concerning respect.
  • Trained volunteers will deal with residents' concerns, passing them on to the relevant authority.
  • She added that the functions of the Liaison Officers would include dealing with concerns and needs of tenants in regard to estate management and maintenance.
cope with, handle, manage, attend to, see to, take care of, take charge of, take in hand, sort out, tackle, take on;
control, master, influence, manipulate
3.1Cope with or control (a difficult person or situation): you’ll have to find a way of dealing with those feelings
More example sentences
  • Are you living with parents who don't understand you, coping with divorce and adoption, or dealing with sensitive and difficult situations like illness or abuse?
  • You are confident, gracious and just when dealing with difficult people and situations in the family.
  • But he had a difficult situation to deal with, and there was no perfect resolution.
3.2 [with adverbial] Treat (someone) in a particular way: life had dealt very harshly with her
More example sentences
  • She said: ‘It is important that people who think they are above the law, and use guns to instill fear in the public, are dealt with harshly.’
  • ‘The players have been harshly dealt with by the media,’ he says.
  • Spammers are jeopardizing what is probably the most significant communication tool in history, and they deserve to be dealt with harshly.
treat, handle, serve, use;
act towards, behave towards, conduct oneself towards
3.3Have commercial relations with: the bank deals directly with the private sector
More example sentences
  • The concept of customer is used in this book in a wide sense to describe anyone who deals with a bank in relation to a banking service.
  • A public relations company dealing with the Plaza declined to confirm whether the rumours were true.
  • Why should not directors and shareholders dealing with each other in relation to the latter's shares be treated as operating at arm's length?
3.4Have as a subject; discuss: the novel deals with several different topics
More example sentences
  • The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed a proliferation of novels dealing with the subject of music.
  • It is a molecular study, but discusses and deals with morphological information in a reasonable way.
  • The first two chapters deal exclusively with economic theory.
4 [with two objects] Inflict (a blow) on (someone or something): hopes of an economic recovery were dealt another blow
More example sentences
  • The Scottish economy has been dealt a new blow by figures that show exports have nosedived in the last quarter despite a solid performance from the rest of the UK.
  • Stainforth is just one of the communities that will be dealt a body blow if Hatfield colliery shuts.
  • Apparently ‘marriage as we know it’ has been dealt a ‘death blow’.
deliver, administer, dispense, inflict, give, impose;
direct, aim


Back to top  
1An agreement entered into by two or more parties for their mutual benefit, especially in a business or political context: the government was ready to do a deal with the opposition
More example sentences
  • Mr Firth said that Yorkshire business people were also becoming better networkers and he expected many businesses to benefit from deals secured at the event.
  • Financial matters and business deals are arranged according to your directions.
  • I like what I do and I've been involved in a number of deals, negotiations and business transactions which have proved satisfying.
1.1 [with adjective] A particular form of treatment given or received: working mothers get a bad deal
More example sentences
  • The mark guarantees workers such as tea pluckers in Sri Lanka and banana farmers in the Windward Islands receive a reasonable deal.
  • The expectations are not always met and we always want to believe that we are at the receiving end of a bad deal all the time.
  • A Conservative government with its ridiculous position of re-negotiating agreed treaties will only result in a bad deal for Britain.
2 [in singular] The process of distributing the cards to players in a card game: after the deal, players A and B stay out
More example sentences
  • After the deal but before the players pick up their cards, the top card of each hand is turned up.
  • The player who received the first card from the deal may be known as eldest hand, or as forehand.
  • In the old days, maybe a few hundred dollars rode on the last deal of a card in five stud or five draw.
2.1A player’s turn to distribute cards: ‘Time for one more game.’ ‘All right. Whose deal?’
More example sentences
  • After each hand, the deal passes to next player to the left of the previous dealer who is still in.
  • In baccarat the deal goes counterclockwise around the table from player to player.
  • If both players pass, the bones are thrown in and the deal passes to the next player.
2.2The round of play following a distribution of cards.
More example sentences
  • So even if you fold, you may still get the chance to win the current pot on the following deal.
  • This can be done at any time during the deal by an active player who has a card matching their score.
  • From the second deal onwards, players form partnerships according to their scores.
2.3The set of hands dealt to the players.
More example sentences
  • If all four players pass, the deal is abandoned, and the next dealer deals.
  • There may be cards left on the table after everyone has played their cards from the first deal.
  • As usual, it is suggested that the reader copies the deal and follows the play.


Old English dǣlan 'divide', 'participate', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch deel and German Teil 'part' (noun), also to dole1. The sense 'divide' gave rise to 'distribute', hence sense 1 of the verb, sense 4 of the verb; the sense 'participate' gave rise to 'have dealings with', hence sense 2 of the verb, sense 3 of the verb.


a big deal

[usually with negative] A thing considered important: they don’t make a big deal out of minor irritations
More example sentences
  • We purposely didn't make a big deal of the twenty-fifth because we think every year is important.
  • Failing to cover such an important community event would not be a big deal if a local radio station was on air.
  • As you might imagine, this is quite a big deal for landowners, and is important to keep sites open.
(big deal) Used to express one’s contempt for something regarded as impressive or important by another person: ‘I’ll give you an allowance,’ he said. ‘Big deal,’ she thought
More example sentences
  • If he yells and waves his arms around too much to make a convincing weather girl, big deal.
  • But even if she was looking up something slightly more unsavoury, again, big deal.
  • So you might get a black eye - big deal, that's the last resort of a thick bully who has no more words to throw, but you still win.

a deal of

dated A large amount of: he lost a deal of blood
More example sentences
  • It would certainly cost the banks a deal of nuisance and lost employee hours.
  • There was quite a deal of evidence that that amount of money was by no means unusual so far as his situation was concerned.
  • Meanwhile drugs squad officers seized E1000 of ecstasy, cannabis and a deal of what is believed to be cocaine in a raid on a house in the Crozon area of the city.

a good (or great) deal

A large amount: I don’t know a great deal about politics
More example sentences
  • Her outward appearance was no more than a child of sixteen, but she was, in reality, a good deal over five hundred.
  • I think in the aspect of being a person who has a great deal to overcome and a great amount of love to give.
  • The reason why we are in the middle of such a cold epoch has a great deal to do with the positioning of the land masses.
a lot, a great amount, a large amount, a fair amount, much, plenty
British informal a shedload
vulgar slang a shitload
North American vulgar slang an assload
To a considerable extent: she had got to know him a good deal better
More example sentences
  • The second reason seems to be a good deal more plausible than the first.
  • The autism appeal may have achieved a great deal, but there is still a great deal more that needs to be done.
  • This book is a good deal better than most, and a good deal easier to read.

a square deal

A fair arrangement: the workers feel they are not getting a square deal
More example sentences
  • ‘The principles for which we stand are the principles of fair play and a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States.’ - Theodore Roosevelt
  • And if you don't believe me, ask Helen Liddell if women get a square deal in Scottish politics.
  • Unionist minister Basil Brooke in 1933 admitted that Protestants in the Free State might well get a square deal, but this was because they were a declining minority of no threat to the state.

it's a deal

informal Used to express one’s assent to an agreement: ‘It’s a deal,’ he said, smiling with satisfaction
More example sentences
  • Okay, if you can come up with another 200,000 units and make delivery by August 1, it's a deal.
  • And Gorbachev said, it's a deal, or however he would say that in Russian.
  • If it means we don't have to go out with you, love, it's a deal.

the deal

informal The situation or state of affairs: what’s the deal with you and that guy? big double standards exist, but he knows the deal
More example sentences
  • Everyone else on tour knew the deal with Michael except Jessica.
  • So what's the deal with you and Eric?
  • What's the deal with your parents? Are they married or divorced?

the real deal

informal A person or thing considered to be a genuine or supremely good example of their kind : their love affair seems pretty close to the real deal Craig is the real deal, an American running legend
More example sentences
  • With five years experience behind the desk, working with some of the scenes biggest players there is no doubting their credentials; these guys are the real deal.
  • She said she had looked at other companies that do what we do, had asked around about us, and had discovered that we were the real deal.
  • To these traveling enthusiasts and collectors, Western art is the real deal, and the cowboy is their hero.

Definition of deal in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

There are 2 main definitions of deal in English:


Line breaks: deal
Pronunciation: /diːl


[mass noun]
1Fir or pine wood as a building material.
More example sentences
  • This has red deal timber flooring, wainscoting to dado level, a baluster railing and plaster cornicing.
  • He still slept in his camp bed, and used a dining-table that he had made out of deal boards with four fencing posts for legs.
  • The paved back court, under which the kitchen and scullery were situated, was to include at its northern end a ‘seat or small building’ with deal columns.
1.1 [count noun] A plank made of fir or pine wood.
More example sentences
  • In Britain and America, material was available in timber form, as plank, deals, board, and scantling.
  • In 1876 he loaded the schooner City of Manitowoc with pine deals in Manistee, Michigan and took them through the St. Lawrence River and across the ocean.
  • Early in 1852, the price of New Brunswick spruce deals had to be reduced because of the competition from cheap Norwegian white deals.


Middle English: from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch dele 'plank'.

Definition of deal in: