- a usually rectangular piece of stiff paper, thin pasteboard, or plastic for various uses, as to write information on or printed as a means of identifying the holder: a 3″ × 5″ file card; a membership card.
- one of a set of thin pieces of cardboard with spots, figures, etc., used in playing various games; playing card.
- cards, (usually used with a singular verb)
- a game or games played with such a set.
- the playing of such a game: to win at cards.
- Casino.the winning of 27 cards or more.
- Whist.tricks won in excess of six.
- Also called greeting card. a piece of paper or thin cardboard, usually folded, printed with a message of holiday greeting, congratulations, or other sentiment, often with an illustration or decorations, for mailing to a person on an appropriate occasion.
- something useful in attaining an objective, as a course of action or position of strength, comparable to a high card held in a game: If negotiation fails, we still have another card to play.
- a specified topic that elicits strong reactions, brought up as part of a strategic move to gain an advantage: She was accused of playing the gender card when her male boss passed her over for promotion. He pulled the race card by branding his Muslim opponent as radical.
- calling card(def 1).
- a program of the events at races, boxing matches, etc.
- a menu or wine list.
- compass card.
- trading card.
- a person who is amusing or facetious.
- any person, especially one with some indicated characteristic: a queer card.
- to provide with a card.
- to fasten on a card.
- to write, list, etc., on cards.
- Slang. to examine the identity card or papers of: The bartender was carding all youthful customers to be sure they were of legal drinking age.
- in/on the cards, impending or likely; probable: A reorganization is in the cards.
- play one's cards right, to act cleverly, sensibly, or cautiously: If you play your cards right, you may get mentioned in her will.
- put one's cards on the table, to be completely straightforward and open; conceal nothing: He always believed in putting his cards on the table.
Origin of card1
- a piece of stiff paper or thin cardboard, usually rectangular, with varied uses, as for filing information in an index, bearing a written notice for display, entering scores in a game, etc
- such a card used for identification, reference, proof of membership, etclibrary card; identity card; visiting card
- such a card used for sending greetings, messages, or invitations, often bearing an illustration, printed greetings, etcChristmas card; birthday card
- one of a set of small pieces of cardboard, variously marked with significant figures, symbols, etc, used for playing games or for fortune-telling
- short for playing card
- (as modifier)a card game
- (in combination)cardsharp
- informal a witty, entertaining, or eccentric person
- short for cheque card, credit card
- See compass card
- Also called: race card horse racing a daily programme of all the races at a meeting, listing the runners, riders, weights to be carried, distances to be run, and conditions of each race
- a thing or action used in order to gain an advantage, esp one that is concealed and kept in reserve until needed (esp in the phrase a card up one's sleeve)
- short for printed circuit cardSee printed circuit board
- (tr) to comb out and clean fibres of wool or cotton before spinning
- (formerly) a machine or comblike tool for carding fabrics or for raising the nap on cloth
Word Origin and History for in the cards
1540s, "to play cards" (now obsolete), from card (n.1). From 1925 as "to write (something) on a card for filing." Meaning "require (someone) to show ID" is from 1970s. Related: Carded; carding.
"machine for combing," late 14c. (mid-14c. in surname Cardmaker), from Old French carde "card, teasel," from Old Provençal cardo or some other Romanic source (cf. Spanish and Italian carda "thistle, tease, card," back-formation from cardar "to card" (see card (v.1)). The English word probably also comes via Anglo-Latin cardo, from Medieval Latin carda "a teasel," from Latin carduus.
c.1400, "playing card," from Middle French carte (14c.), from Latin charta "leaf of paper, tablet," from Greek khartes "layer of papyrus," probably from Egyptian. Form influenced after 14c. by Italian carta (see chart (n.)).
Sense of "playing cards" also is oldest in French. Sense in English extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff bits of paper. Meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1869. Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, e.g. smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c.1560).
Card table is from 1713. Card-sharper is 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense is from 1640s, first attested in Milton. To have a card up (one's) sleeve is 1898; to play the _______ card is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment (for political advantage)."
Idioms and Phrases with in the cards
in the cards
Likely or certain to happen, as in I don't think Jim will win—it's just not in the cards. This term, originally put as on the cards, alludes to the cards used in fortune-telling. [Early 1800s]