Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

a deuce of a (something)

An exceptionally bad or difficult thing, activity, or person. This is a deuce of an assignment—I can't understand the first thing about it! Boy, that is a deuce of a haircut. You're going to go out in public like that? We had a deuce of a time convincing Grandpa to go to the doctor for that bad cough.
See also: deuce, of


slang A .22-caliber gun. "Deuce" is a slang term for "two." Watch out for that guy—he's got a deuce-deuce on him.


The number 22. "Deuce" is another word for the number two. A: "I hear you're double-deuces now." B: "Yeah, I am. It's not as exciting as when I turned 21."

like the deuce

Very quickly or wildly. I ran like the deuce to fetch the doctors. The wind in these parts will start whipping like the deuce after nightfall, so you should stay indoors once it gets dark outside.
See also: deuce, like

there will be the deuce to pay

There will be a huge amount of trouble (if a particular thing does/does not happen or is/is not done). There'll be the deuce to pay if they catch us sneaking out this late at night! If you don't have that report finished by lunch, there will be the deuce to pay!
See also: deuce, pay, there, to, will

what (in) the deuce

An exclamation used to emphasize surprise, shock, or bafflement. ("Deuce" is a minced oath in place of the word "devil.") Just what the deuce is going on here? What in the deuce? I just put my sandwich down, and now it's gone!
See also: deuce, what

who the deuce

An emphatic way of forming any statement or question beginning with "who," typically when expressing frustration, anger, irritation, incredulousness, etc. Who the deuce ate my lunch? That's the third time this month! A: "Who the deuce was that guy?" B: "I dunno, just some weirdo, I guess." The game show gives you a lifetime supply of hot sauce if you win? Who the deuce would want that as their prize?
See also: deuce, who
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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, to

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017


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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Deuce and Bart have transitioned to the goose guide business and ushered in the next generation--Bart's sons Jon, 19, and Parker, 17, and Deuce's 12-year-old son Sid III (aka "Trey")--to the family franchise.
The Deuce did hold, right to 0330 hrs, when Ed was given the order to withdraw.
While hunted "lightly," Deuce determinedly covered nearly 57 miles of open country in a little over two days in search of sharptails and prairie grouse.
According to Elaine, the production figures for the Double Deuce were "more than 60, less than 100" finished pistols.
The Deuce was poured at an Oskar Blues Brewery at the "It's All about the Package" release party following the Great American Beer Festival.
Deuce is a wonderfully strong and complex young female character, in the tradition of other tough heroines like The Hunger Games's Katniss and Kristin Cashore's Graceling's Katsa (Graphia, 2008/VOYA October 2008).
SP Misra, who has been appointed the non- playing captain for the London Games, for one thinks that Paes should stick to the deuce court and Sania should change to left.
Murray had to battle to keep alive hope that Djokovic might do the same again as he somehow held on to his opening three service games after being taken to deuce on each occasion.
Finally, we've got a Shoot Off segment from a deuce and a half truck.
This holiday season, families and youths across the state will receive and share blessings thanks to Mississippi football legend, Deuce McAllister and his Catch 22 Foundation.
Best trade Deuce 2.20 Lingfield Don't expect any fancy prices about Eve Johnson Houghton's three-year-old prerace, as he ran out an impressive winner at Nottingham last time and that performance will still be fresh in the minds of his backers.
Set in a warehouse under the railway arches in Digbeth, the event will also mark the ten-year anniversary of the Deuce Crew, which provides music for the event in the form of minimal techno and house.
The cars that ran the dry lakes evolved by the late 30% into the iconic hot rod: a Model T or Model A or Model B (the 1932 Ford known as "the Deuce") roadster, stripped of all inessentials (fenders, bumpers, windshields, headlights, even front brakes), powered by a heavily modified flathead V-8 that Henry Ford introduced with the 1932 Ford.
A Pete Sampras-style slam dunk and a mesmeric backhand pass kept Murray in control though, before the next Djokovic service game went to deuce..