Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ace n.

[the characteristics of SE ace, one (at dice, in cards), as superior and singular]

1. the vagina; cit. 1719 is double entendre.

[UK]H. Porter Two Angry Women of Abington I i: Why, had ye kept your man in his right place, / I should not then have hit him with an ace.
[UK] ‘Assembly at Kensington’ Harleian Mss. 7315: If Wallers Brain were like her face / She’d ne’re let Somersett f— her A—.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 90: Poor Donald [...] lost his Place, Sir; For playing of a Game at Whisk, And turning up an Ace, Sir.
[UK]H. Howard Choice Spirits Museum 91: Out upon The ficked Rogue, That wrote apout hur A---.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

2. (also ace of spades) the penis.

[UK]J. Harington Epigrams I No. 79: Thou with thy Husband do’st play false at Tables. / First, thou so cunningly a Die canst slurre, / To strike an Ace, so dead, it cannot sturre.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 323: To the Tavern we went, / A Curse on the Place; / For her Love was so hot, / It soon fir’d my A—.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 107/2: Ace of spades [...] also the heart-stirring monosyllable, see pego and cartsue.

3. from the high value of the card.

(a) (orig. US) an important, influential person; someone of high quality or held in high esteem; an outstanding person.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 47: With $420 I could be an ace and get a start out in the Town of the Wind.
[US]Ade Girl Proposition 13: Number One was trying to demonstrate that he was a Deuce of a Fellow and Number Two was trying to convince her that she was an Ace of a Girl.
[US]Van Loan ‘His Own Stuff’ in Score by Innings (2004) 388: Uncle Billy was certainly an ace at the Montmorency Street Police Station.
[UK]Wodehouse Damsel in Distress 35: Put it in your diary, Mac, and write it on your cuff, George Bevan’s all right. He’s an ace.
[US]J. Lait Broadway Melody 21: Thanks, Uncle Bernie. You’re an ace.
[US]J.T. Farrell Gas-House McGinty 358: He ain’t the ace that you were.
[US]B. Stiles Serenade to the Big Bird 87: You couldn’t find a better guy [...] And what an ACE with the women.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 5: The pad is loaded with hipsters from all fronts, mad aces in their places, cool chicks strictly the lick, fine and most bulling.
[US]B. Hecht Sensualists (1961) 78: You’re an ace.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 69: Ace A socially adept person. A quick or witty person.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 474: Mr. Manslaughter [...] you wasted some ace.
[US]Dr Dre ‘Still D.R.E.’ [lyrics] I’ll break your neck, damn near put your face in your lap / Try to be the king but the ace is back.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.

(b) (orig. Aus.) an expert.

[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer II 233: He was an ‘ace-of-clubs’ man with the pistol.
(con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (2nd edn).
[US]D. Hammett ‘Dead Yellow Women’ Story Omnibus (1966) 159: Dick Foley — our shadow ace — was idle.
[US]T. Gordon Born to Be (1975) 236: Ace: A senior railroad porter.
[US]I. Franklyn Knights of the Cockpit 2: This hardboiled flying ace.
[UK]S. Horler London’s Und. 57: A blackmailer. Of the highest possible type, of course — a top-notcher, a king-pin, a crackajack, an ace.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 62: A professional’s work — and an ‘ace’ at that.
[UK]G. Gibson Enemy Coast Ahead (1955) 228: They were the aces of Bomber Command.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 21 July in Proud Highway (1997) 278: He’s a real ace.
[US]Current Sl. II:4 3: Ace, n. A skilled performer.
[US](con. 1910s) F.M. Davis Livin’ the Blues 41: ‘You might fool these tadpoles,’ he went on waving his hand toward the younger boys [...] ‘but you gotta put somethin’ straighter’n that for an old ace like me. You never had nothin’ but ol’ Minnie Five Fingers!’.
[UK]Guardian G2 16 July 8: Don’t forget tennis ace and pretty face Anna Kournikova.
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Cartoon City 14: If he didn’t have the piece ready for Migraine on the agreed deadline then he might lose his chance of being a features ace.
[US](con. 1960s) J. Ellroy Blood’s a Rover 30: Spooks: The restaurant was thick with them [...] Colored waiters, colored lobbyist, colored baseball ace.

(c) something useful, important.

[US]Alaska Citizen 28 Aug. 7/2: She [...] came back with the ace by sending him a letter that smelled like a drug store.
[US]H.C. Witwer Leather Pushers 24: The Kid’s ace was his left hook.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 21: I was thinking about Ziegler and whether my ace would be good enough.
[Aus]F.B. Vickers Mirage (1958) 232: It was the baby she saw as her strong card; that was an ace. For even white folk had pity on a woman carrying a child.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 145: The punk knows when he’s holding an ace.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 105: She popped her final ace — ‘Walter, if you persist with this behaviour, I shall have to call Judge Gray and have you committed’.
[NZ]G.Newbold Big Huey 244: ace (n) 1. The best, of high quality.
[NZ]A. Duff One Night Out Stealing 29: Humour’s my ace card.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 234: My insurance policy, my one an only ace, could be down there on the damp floor.

(d) (US black) a very close friend.

[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ ‘Wrong Way Home’ in Tell Them Nothing (1956) 147: ‘Who’s this new cat?’ ‘One of my aces.’.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 84: One day after we became aces we had our first fight.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 49: ‘You’re pals with Tommy Dunphy [...]?’ ‘Yeah, we’re aces.’.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 227: ace n. 1. Best friend, close companion (one who can be trusted).
[US] Dr Dre ‘Fuck Wit Dre Day’ [lyrics] Used to be my homey, used to be my ace.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 6: Rude, Kooky, Shorty-Wop, Point Blank — right there’s my ace Fariq.

(e) (US) a detective.

[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 32: Seeing a pair of aces from the Saloon Street Station making for the entrance.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 159: Nice work, ace.

(f) a term of (intimate) address.

[US]J. Thompson Swell-Looking Babe 41: You see, Ace? You got three strikes called the minute they look at you.
[US](con. 1958) R. Farina Been Down So Long (1972) 18: Give me the Victorian for ‘how’s your ass, ace?’.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 184: Not me, ace.
[UK]A. Bleasdale ‘George’s Last Ride’ Boys from the Blackstuff (1985) [TV script] 250: All right, ace.
[US]A. Vachss Hard Candy (1990) 96: You got no case, Ace.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 13: Kinda like you ace, just older and not quite as dumb.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 18: Tell the truth, ace, have ya ever really fucked a midget?
[US]G. Pelecanos Way Home (2009) 18: I don’t have to tell you anything, Ace.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Time to move, ace’.

(g) (US campus) used sarcastically, a fool, a clumsy person.

[US]Current Sl. IV:1.

(h) (US campus) the grade of A.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 69: Ace [...] the grade of ‘A’.
[US](con. 1964–8) oral testimony in Lighter HDAS I 368/1: When I was in college an A was an ace, a B was a bang, a C was a cat or a hook, a D was a dog.
[US]W. Safire What’s The Good Word? 300: Gut courses — where ‘gut gunners’ get an ‘easy Ace’ (A) as opposed to a ‘Hook’ (C) or ‘Flag’ (F).
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 37: Ace ‘the grade A’, Dog ‘the grade D’, and Zoo ‘the lowest grade possible, Z’ are straightforward expansions.

(i) a professional killer.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 64: Two Outfit Aces are out to hit you.

4. as a single unit.

(a) (US) $1; $1’s worth.

[US]C.L. Cullen Taking Chances 108: Get an ace down on Rolling Boer for me.
[US]Sun (NY) 9 Sept. 3/2: Every one of ’em with as high as nine aces in his roll.
[US]H.G. Van Campen ‘Life on Broadway’ in McClure’s Mag. Mar. 36/1: I [...] was gave one contemptible ace for sixteen coats.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 17: I’m in again — I got another berry — I just put the bee on the stenog for an ace.
[US]H. Yenne ‘Prison Lingo’ in AS II:6 282: Ace — A one dollar bill. Sometimes means one year in jail.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 217: Sonny’s hip from way back and solid can blow some gauge, so lay an ace on us and let us get gay.
C. Brossard Who Walk in Darkness 13: Can you lend me an ace?
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia xx: The purchases are made in cash: an ace ($1).
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 92: It’s only a deuce a jump [...] Bert and I’ll put up an ace each to get you laid.
[US]L. Stavsky et al. A2Z.

(b) (US) a single example.

[US]Van Loan ‘Chivalry in Carbon County’ in Score by Innings (2004) 328: That one run looked mighty good to us [...] we were thankful for that ace.

(c) (US Und.) a one-year jail sentence.

see sense 4a.
[US] ‘“Ace” and its Progeny’ in AS XVIII:1 Feb. 71/2: ace, n. [...] a sentence of one year in a jail or prison. ‘Joe was an ace of a guy; he clipped (stole) an ace-note (one dollar banknote) and he drew an ace (one-year sentence) in the can (jail).’.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 165/2: Pull an ace. (P) To serve one year in prison.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) n.p.: ace, n. [...] a one-year prison sentence.
[US]M. Braly False Starts 361: An ace? That’s no hill for a stepper. A year ain’t shit.

(d) (UK Und.) £1.

[UK](con. 1950s–60s) G. Tremlett Little Legs 192: ace, an £1.

(e) (US gambling) the one-spot on a die.

[US]J. Scarne Complete Guide to Gambling.

5. in drug contexts.

(a) (US drugs) marijuana, a marijuana cigarette.

[US]New Yorker 12 Mar. 40: An ace is a single stick [i.e. of marijuana] and sells for 15 cents.
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 303: ace. A marihuana cigarette.
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 25: ace [...] A marijuana cigarette.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 1: Ace — Marijuana cigarette.
[UK]‘What Police Must Learn’ in Dly Teleg. 8 Nov. [Internet] ace — cannabis cigarette.

(b) (US drugs) phencyclidine (PCP), a dangerous hallucinogenic based on animal (pig) tranquillizer.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 1: Ace — [...] PCP.

(c) (US drugs) one single pill of amphetamine, barbiturate or tranquillizer.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 180: I drop an ace an maybe an hour later, I’ll drop another one.

(d) (US prison) a puff on a cigarette.

Prison Dict. at BoyzBehindBars.com [Internet] Ace: a puff of a cigarette, as in ‘Bust me down with an ace’ (NY).

In compounds

ace-note (n.)

(US) a $1 bill.

[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocabulary of Bums’ in AS IV:5 337: Ace note — A dollar bank-note.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 17: Ace Note. – A one dollar bill.
[US] ‘“Ace” and its Progeny’ in AS XVIII:1 Feb. 71/2: ace, n. A fine person; [...] ‘Joe was an ace of a guy; he clipped (stole) an ace-note (one dollar banknote) and he drew an ace (one-year sentence) in the can (jail).’.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 117: I exchanged the hard money for soft, rolled four ace notes tightly and buried them in the tobacco bag.
ace-spot (n.) [-spot sfx (2)]

(US) a $1 bill.

[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-Cat 92: He fumbled [...] in his trousers pocket. ‘It’s not much — only an ace spot.’ [...] There was something in one of his manacled hands. It was a dollar bill.

In phrases

ace in the hole (n.) [poker use, the ‘hole card’ is that which is kept face-down on the table]

(orig. US) a hidden asset.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 86: Eva’s acting to me as if she had an ace in the hole, an’ she might get tipped off.
[US]J. Lait ‘It Wasn’t Honest, But It Was Sweet’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 224: His ace in the hole is your shame at coming to him.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 212: Don’t get any idea in your head that I had any plans to quit trying or ease up on the pace I’d set myself because I had millionaire for an ace in the hole.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 133: Favour that right tomorrow night, Coke [...] and you’ll have an ace in the hole.
[US]Cole Porter ‘Ace in the Hole’ [lyrics] So baby, this rule I propose / Always have an ace in the hole.
[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 19: That’s where you come in, Mike. You’re Nemo’s ace in the hole.
[US]W. Wilson LBJ Brigade (1967) 75: I don’t gotta re-up. That’s my ace in the hole.
[UK]J. Carr Bad (1995) 154: Killian came after us [...] figuring he had us cold. But we had an ace in the hole.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 144: He was our ace in the hole, our smoking gun.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 110: He came to New York with one ace in the hole.
[UK]Guardian G2 1 Apr. 8: Railtrack did have one ace in the hole.
ace of hearts (n.)

the vagina.

[UK]Chapman May-Day V i: I played the varlet and took up her coat, and meaning to lay my five finger upon her ace of hearts, up starts quite a contrary card.
ace of spades (n.) [the black colour]

1. a widow [the widow’s clothes].

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 107/2: Ace of spades, a widow.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 312/1: ace of spades [...] une veuve.
[US]Breckenridge News (Cloveport, KY) 23 Aug. 3/3: I’m a ‘ankle,’ and my mother a ‘ace of spades’.
[Aus] (ref. to 1890s) ‘Gloss. of Larrikin Terms’ in J. Murray Larrikins 201: ace of spades: a widow.

2. the female genital area [a fig. ‘black hole’].

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.
[US]Neaman & Silver Euphemisms 27: Another term for the vagina is the American ace of spades.

3. a black person; sometime derog. but usu. used by blacks themselves to designate a friend, a loyal trustworthy person [spade n.].

[US] ‘“Ace” and its Progeny’ in AS XVIII:1 Feb. 71/2: ace of spades. [...] a trustworthy negro.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 42: Ah, ’tis my gallant Othello, ace of my spades.
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: [...] club [cf. ace-of-spades, spade].
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 6: ace1 a negro; a black. One respondent gives the term ace of spades.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 101: bastard! Born to kill! Born to rule! Ace of spades! Ace of spades!
J. Spades ‘Slick Rick’ [lyrics] I brought J Spades / An ace of spades.

4. (also ace of arse) the area of dark skin around the anus.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz Apr. 47: ace of arse n. The patch of dark skin around the anus, frequently shaped like the Ace of Spades.
ace of trumps (n.) [a trump card ‘defeats’ everything]

the female genital area.

[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 151: His mistress’s delicate white buttock turn’d up, and she produced her ace of trumps.
ace up one’s sleeve (n.) [poker use, but with suggestions of underhand methods, rather than careful, but still legal, planning]

(orig. US) a hidden advantage, not to be revealed until a suitable moment.

[UK]Fortnightly 47 616: It subsequently transpired that the pleasant old gentleman who at that time acted as President had an ace up his sleeve.
[UK]All the Year Round 13 Aug. 158: There is no ace up his sleeve, no mean trick to spring upon those who have trusted him.
Times Mag. (US) I 364: The men around the ballot-boxes hesitated. But there was one of them who had an ace up his sleeve.
[UK]J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 7: They’ve gotten the ace up their sleeves [...] and they are going to play it and win.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 56: The district attorney had another ace up his sleeve.
[US]J. Simon Sign of Fool 69: My supervisor [...] had an ace up his sleeve.
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 83: We’ve got to implement another plan now, and you’re the ace up our sleeve.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 286: Among them: ace in the hole; ace up [one’s] sleeve.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 399: Isn’t an ace up her sleeve the usual expression?
black ace (n.) (also ace of clubs) [? the colour and shape (i.e. the spade suit) of the pubic hair]

the female genital area.

[UK]R. Fletcher ‘Myrtle Grove’ n.p.: The Ace of Clubs, so white, so black, the struting pillow of delight.
[UK]Etherege She Would if She Cou’d IV ii: She’s as frolic and free, / As her Lovers dare be, / Never aw’d by a foollish Punctilio; / She’l not start from her place, / Though thou nam’st a black Ace, / And will drink a Beer-glass to Spudilio.
[UK] ‘A Session of the Poets’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1963) I 355: The poetess Aphra [i.e. Behn] next sho’d her sweet face / And swore by her poetry and her black ace.
draw an ace (v.)

to produce a clean sheet of toilet paper, having wiped one’s anus thoroughly.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus 3 in Viz 98 Oct. 11: draw an ace v. On wiping one’s arse thoroughly, to eventually have an unsoiled piece of paper which indicates the wiping is over.
hold aces (v.) (also hold all the aces, hold an ace full)

(US) to be in total control.

C. King Initial Experience 111: I think ye hold an ace full, Tonto.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 63: I reckon I’m holding all the aces, Signor Cavellado.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 222: I don’t — hold any — aces.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘The Death of Me’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 98: ‘You’re holding the aces,’ I said. ‘In spades.’.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 23: I’m holding aces and you’re trying to buy out with hot air.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 233: That’s why he’s such a big wheel. He’s holding aces.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 163: They think you hold all the aces when it comes to hiring.
[SA]Staffrider (SA) 5-6 30: We aren't deterred by gun-wielding cops — for we hold all the Aces! [...] If God be for us who can be against us?
N. Mayer Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 52: You’ve got to realize we hold all the aces. Sooner you plea bargain — later, you pace a cell for years,.
A. Fairbairn Five Smooth Stones 666: We’re going to win because we hold all the aces. We hold the legal aces, that we know.
K. Leman It’s Your Kid 119: Parent, I’ll tell you a secret. You hold all the aces.
on one’s ace

(Aus./N.Z./S.Afr.) on one’s own.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Oct. 4/7: And Brim’s in London on his ‘ace,’/ Of Andrew Barr a trifle ‘jack’.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 34: Why don’t I get married? [...] Cos it’s one iv them little things yeh can’t do on your ace.
[Aus]A. Russell Tramp-Royal 213: Send ’em out ‘on their ace’ and they’ll probably ‘go camp’ under the first shady tree they come to .
[SA]‘Rawbone Malong’ Ah Big Yaws? 53: Uys. The blessed state of solitude. [...] ’Ee-tin onyor Uys, ay?
[SA]P. Slabolepszy Sat. Night at the Palace (1985) 12: The oke’s on his ace – we mustn’t crowd him!
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 11: He would rather pen and ink on his ace until some of his Chinas lobbed.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Ace. 1. As in ‘on your ace’, ie alone, left to one’s own resources. Considered part of the prison ethos where a prisoner essentially has to do his own time.
[SA]R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart (1991) 259: Frikkie used to be able to drink a bottle of brandy [...] ‘on his ace,’ as we say.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.