What’s the meaning of “Avere un asso nella manica”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian saying Avere un asso nella manica along with its pronunciation. If you like to win, this idiom is for you.

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Avere un asso nella manica

Meaning of the expression

Avere un asso nella manica can be literally translated as “to have an ace in your sleeve”, which is the equivalent of the English saying to have an ace up your sleeve.

You use this saying when you are in trouble, but you have a winning card behind your back, like a magician who suddenly pulls a rabbit out of his hat.

Linguistically speaking, this idiom can be broken down into…

  • avere (to have)
  • un asso (an ace)
  • nella (in the)
  • manica (sleeve)
kid playing a winning card

For example, you could say…

Lorenzo ha sempre un asso nella manica. È un ragazzo pieno di risorse.
Lorenzo always has an ace up his sleeve. He is a resourceful guy.

Sembrava che Paolo stesse perdendo, ma in realtà nascondeva un asso nella manica.
It looked like Paul was losing, but in fact, he was hiding an ace up his sleeve.

Pronunciation of Avere un asso nella manica in Italian

Now let’s hear how this saying is pronounced.

Avere un asso nella manica
To have an ace up your sleeve

If you need help with Italian pronunciation, check out the lesson on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation.

Where does Avere un asso nella manica come from?

This idiomatic expression probably comes from the habit of card sharps who used to hide aces up their sleeves. Even if it comes from a bad habit, it’s worth noting that it has no negative connotation nowadays.

Il baro nascondeva l’asso di cuori nella manica.
The cheater was hiding the ace of hearts in his sleeve.

cheater who tries to fool a passerby by playing a game

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian saying Avere un asso nella manica!

What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb Avere un asso nella manica is in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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