Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


He took the card from the florist's envelope and glanced at the name.

He left her studying the card with a curious little flash of surprise.

Then I came for her; I saved her sister; then I saw the name on the card and would not give my own.

For his own part, he was no card expert, and he smiled as Henry made his offer.

There was no further mention of the troubles of that card game.

"For Miss Dennis," said the messenger; but she handed the card to Mrs. Roberts.

When John's card was brought, I was tempted to refuse to see him.

It was even hinted that at one time he had been a card player, but no one knew this for a fact.

I put a card with my address into his hands, thanked him, and got home as well as I could.

But they did not come to luncheon, and then Hewson had the clerk send up his card.


c.1400, "playing card," from Middle French carte (14c.), from Latin charta "leaf of paper, tablet," from Greek khartes "layer of papyrus," probably from Egyptian. Form influenced after 14c. by Italian carta (see chart (n.)).

Sense of "playing cards" also is oldest in French. Sense in English extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff bits of paper. Meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1869. Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, e.g. smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c.1560).

Card table is from 1713. Card-sharper is 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense is from 1640s, first attested in Milton. To have a card up (one's) sleeve is 1898; to play the _______ card is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment (for political advantage)."


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.