TRUMP CARD MEANING – To have an unexpected or surprise advantage over someone. In card games, the trump card is the card with the highest value. In many games, players will use their best card at the last moment to win the hand or round.
Idiom Examples – (1). They won the negotiation by using free advertising as a trump card. (2). The defence played a trump card by producing a solid alibi for the accused.
NOTE – Trump can also simply be used as a verb (to trump someone or something). For example: (1). My wife cooked a fantastic meal, but I trumped it with the dessert. (2). Children play with balls more than with any other toy. Balls trump all the other toys. (3). He always trumps my jokes with a better one. (4). Iphones have trumped all other mobile phones on the market.
COME UP / TURN UP TRUMPS MEANING – to achieve something unexpectedly. This idiom is normally used to express a surprise win or success.
Idiom Examples: (1). Our team was losing but we came up trumps when Mario scored a goal in the last five minutes of the match. (2). I didn’t have enough money to take my girlfriend out for dinner but my Dad came up trumps and surprised me with some extra cash. (3). He wasn’t expected to do well in the exam but he turned up trumps when he got the highest score in the class.
ORIGIN – The word ‘trump’ became popular in the early 16th century with a card game called, ‘Triumph’. It was originally used to mean beat or win. By the late 16th century, ‘trump’ also started to be used to mean to cheat or deceive. Both these meanings are still found in the English language today.
Read the passage below to see how the word trump can be used as an IDIOM or PHRASAL VERB (or download the PDF worksheet & answers)
President Trump, the 45th President of the U.S., has dominated the news this week. It all started on the day of the inauguration in Washington. So many protesters turned up to support the Women’s Protest Marches that they trumped the inauguration ceremony. Indeed, in comparison to previous years, hardly anyone turned up to celebrate his inauguration. The media then released photos showing the difference between this inauguration and that of President Obama’s. To make matters even worse for the newly-elected President, a spokesman for the White House, said that the photos were trumped up as they had, ‘alternative facts’. Things are certainly not going very well for President Trump. On Saturday, he released a 90-day entry ban on Muslim citizens from seven Muslim countries. The ban included citizens with dual nationality and valid visas. Fortunately, federal Judge Ann Donnelly came up trumps when she declared the visa-ban to be unconstitutional. The problem is that no one knows what this President will do next. He’s always ready to play a trump card.