be within an ace of (doing) (something)

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be within an ace of (doing) (something)

To be extremely close to doing, achieving, or obtaining something, typically when there is a very narrow margin between success and failure. I was within an ace of winning that race, but I guess I'll have to settle for second place. They were within an ace of defeat when the quarterback threw a Hail Mary for a last-second touchdown. Crude oil prices have been within an ace of $80 a barrel since Friday, their lowest point in years.
See also: ace, of, within
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

within an ace of, to be

Very close to, within a narrow margin of. This term refers to the ace of dice (not playing cards)—that is, the one pip on a die. Since the lowest number one can throw with a pair of dice is two (two aces), such a throw is within an ace of one. The term was transferred to other near misses by 1700 or so. Thomas Browne wrote, “I was within an ace of being talked to death” (letter, 1704), and Alexander Pope, “I was within an ace of meeting you” (letter, 1711).
See also: ace, to, within
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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