Posted by Pamela on September 13, 2007
In Reply to: Ace the ace posted by Baceseras on September 08, 2007
: : : : : : : Ace the ace - what is that supposed to mean?
: : : : : : "Ace the ace" doesn't come up as a phrase on google. "Ace", though, can mean to do something easily ("He aced 100% on his exam."). It is also, in many card games, the highest card. So, with these sorts of meanings I would take "ace the ace" to be a very good thing. Someone else might have a different suggestion. Pamela
: : : : : I would try to explain it this way. THe ace is the highest card, the topper. It tops any other card. To ace the ace means to top the topper, to top the highest card, to get higher than the highest. Since it is by definition an impossibility to top the highest, the author of this phrase is using both hyperbole and paradox, and rendering his meaning obscure to at least some readers.
: : : : : SS
: : : : The OED correctly mentions the American usage of "ace" as "a person outstanding in any activity or occupation" (following its use to designate a superior airman in the first world war). To "ace the ace" would be to best such a person in competition in his strong suit.
: : : You believe, then, that the expression is a sort of pun, using the verb, to ace, followed by the noun, ace (as in expert)? My opinion is about the same as my earlier one. I might add that in American usage, you don't "ace 100%" on the exam, rather you "ace the exam," not usually by getting a perfect score, but by getting a high score. Usage varies somewhat, actually, but always includes a passing grade.
: : I want to mention that the noun, ace, used to mean an expert, but without any modifiers or explanatory antecedents, virtually always assumes a "flying ace," as in World War I, World War II, or any subsequent war in which fighter aircraft were involved. Obviously the ace in a deck of cards is also a noun, but the context should give it.
: : Ace used in a baseball context almost certainly refers to Bob "Ace" Feller, one of the sport's greatest pitchers.
: : SS
: In baseball talk I think "ace" is used more widely --- it's the automatic encomium for any squad's dominant pitcher. I've heard it used (without demurrer) of David Wells, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, and C.C. Sabathia, among others.
: Outside of baseball, in the USA at least, an "ace" is understood to be top dog in any competitive endeavor. (And any endeavor can be competitive, and can generate talk of aces.)
: The verb in the phrase, "ace the ace", might be understood to mean "to act the part of an ace"; while the phrase's object is that someone who is already acknowledged to be an ace. The verb is wrenched a little way out of its syntactic propriety for the sake of making a more striking figure of speech. (The act of "acing" wouldn't ordinarily take as direct object the ace in whose face the acing is done.)
: "To ace the ace", then, is to beat a master at his own game.
Re "He aced 100% on his exam" - I chose this example without considering the difference between this and "He aced his exam". In Australia, the second sentence means the same as in the US - he did well. To "ace 100%" or to "ace a pass" (or any other specific mark) means - to get that mark easily (not "I got 100%/passed, but, boy, I struggled to get the paper finished in the designated time"). Pamela