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What the deuce?

Sl. What has happened?; What? (Deuce is an old word for devil.) What the deuce! Who are you? What the deuce! Who did this?
See also: what

a (or the) deuce of a —

something very bad or difficult of its kind.
1933 John Galsworthy The End of the Chapter It seems there's a deuce of a fuss in the Bolivian papers.
See also: deuce, of

the deuce to pay

trouble to be expected.
See also: deuce, pay

like the deuce

very fast.
Deuce was first used in 17th-century English in various exclamatory expressions in which it was equated with ‘bad luck’ or ‘mischief’, because in dice-playing two (= deuce) is the lowest and most unlucky throw. From this there soon developed the sense of deuce as ‘the devil’ (i.e. bad luck or mischief personified). Deuce as a euphemism for the devil occurs in a number of expressions, including those above.
See also: deuce, like


1. n. the devil. (Always with the.) I’ll knock the deuce out of you if you come around here again.
2. n. the two in playing cards. If I could only get a deuce.
3. n. two dollars. Can you loan me a deuce till payday?
4. n. a two-year prison sentence. (Underworld.) The DA made sure that Mooshoo got more than a deuce.
5. n. a table for two. Give the next couple the deuce over in the corner.


n. a .22-caliber pistol. (Streets.) My buddy popped his uncle with a deuce-deuce.


n. the number twenty-two. The National Weather Service says it’s going down to the double-deuces tonight.

What the deuce?

interrog. What has happened?; What? (Deuce is an old word for devil.) What the deuce! Who are you?
See also: what

Who the deuce?

interrog. Who? (An elaboration of who. The deuce is the devil. See examples for variations.) Who the deuce do you think you are?
See also: who