[ kahrd ]
See synonyms for card on
  1. 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.

  2. one of a set of thin pieces of cardboard with spots, figures, etc., used in playing various games; playing card.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Commerce.

  6. a program of the events at races, boxing matches, etc.

  7. a menu or wine list.

  8. Computers.

  9. Informal.

    • a person who is amusing or facetious.

    • any person, especially one with some indicated characteristic: a queer card.

verb (used with object)
  1. to provide with a card.

  2. to fasten on a card.

  1. to write, list, etc., on cards.

  2. 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.

Idioms about card

  1. in / on the cards, impending or likely; probable: A reorganization is in the cards.

  2. play one's cards right, to act cleverly, sensibly, or cautiously: If you play your cards right, you may get mentioned in her will.

  1. 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 card

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English carde, unexplained variant of Old French carte carte

Words Nearby card

Other definitions for card (2 of 3)

[ kahrd ]

nounAlso called carding machine .
  1. a machine for combing and paralleling fibers of cotton, flax, wool, etc., prior to spinning to remove short, undesirable fibers and produce a sliver.

  2. a similar implement for raising the nap on cloth.

verb (used with object)
  1. to dress (wool or the like) with a card.

Origin of card

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English card(e), from Middle French: literally, “teasel head,” from Late Latin cardus “teasel,” from Latin carduus “thistle”

Other words from card

  • carder, noun

Other definitions for Card. (3 of 3)


  1. Cardinal. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use card in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for card (1 of 3)


/ (kɑːd) /

  1. 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

  2. such a card used for identification, reference, proof of membership, etc: library card; identity card; visiting card

  1. such a card used for sending greetings, messages, or invitations, often bearing an illustration, printed greetings, etc: Christmas card; birthday card

  2. 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

  3. informal a witty, entertaining, or eccentric person

  4. 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

  5. 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)

  6. short for printed circuit card: See printed circuit board

Origin of card

C15: from Old French carte, from Latin charta leaf of papyrus, from Greek khartēs, probably of Egyptian origin

British Dictionary definitions for card (2 of 3)


/ (kɑːd) /

  1. (tr) to comb out and clean fibres of wool or cotton before spinning

  1. (formerly) a machine or comblike tool for carding fabrics or for raising the nap on cloth

Origin of card

C15: from Old French carde card, teasel, from Latin carduus thistle

Derived forms of card

  • carding, noun
  • carder, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Card. (3 of 3)


abbreviation for
  1. Cardinal

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with card


In addition to the idioms beginning with card

  • card in
  • cards are stacked against
  • card up one's sleeve

also see:

  • hold all the aces (the trump card)
  • house of cards
  • in the cards
  • lay one's cards on the table
  • play one's cards close to one's chest

play one's cards righttrump cardwild card.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.