Thursday, September 07, 2006

One Up


Ace is a word with a wide range of meanings.

An ace in dice or in playing cards is simply a one. It comes, ultimately, from the Greek word for one: eis. In games using racquets, such as tennis or badminton, an ace is an unreturnable serve, and it is worth one point. In golf, an ace is a hole in one.

In American slang, an ace was a dollar bill. There is a paradox here: while one is the lowest of numbers, it often represents great value, something held in esteem, such as aces in the game of poker.

This is why high praise is conveyed by “he’s an ace of a guy,” why an expert is an ace in her field, and why a crack aviator was called an ace in World War I. It’s also why, when you ace a test, you have received a very high grade.

May you all have an ace in the hole.


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