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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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Players must work with the deuce cards against the dealer to make the best five-card hand possible and possibly win the progressive jackpot, which starts at $5000 and climbs as the game heats up.
Deuces started the run with a deficit score against Masood, 8.15, but in other four matches, Deuces out paced Trailblazer 14.28, Foxy 16.38, GFQ 18.00 and Four Stars 14.28.
Masood having Hamed Mohiuddin, Masood Mazhar, Ghufran Ashraf, Tariq Zafar and Khaled Mohiuddin, won four matches, from Javed 16.28, Rizwan 18.15 and Foxy 10.54, lost two matches to Deuces 6.15 and GFQ 8.15 VPs.
Deuces bar in Chigwell Mark with co-star & fiance Lauren Goodger Also on trial...
What the Deuce? The remains of the charred bar and suspect brick.
Through its Fuel Center program, FuelQuest sources, monitors, replenishes and reconciles retail motor fuel for Lucky Deuces, taking the burden off Sthanki, who in the past had to stay on top of his fuel supplier to make sure he was always in stock.
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.
"Deuces Are Wild" is the third and final book of the Song Trilogy.
A mammoth 15-minute opening game went to seven deuces before Ljubicic finally served out a game Murray should have won.
Leon Stephen Dorff Bobby Brad Renfro Annie Fairuza Balk Marco Norman Reedus Freddie Max Perlich Betsy Drea de Matteo Father Aldo Vincent Pastore Scooch Frankie Muniz Jimmy Pockets Balthazar Getty Esther Nancy Cassaro Fritzy Matt Dillon Wendy Deborah Harry Tino James Franco Philly Babe Louis Lombardi In its overwhelmingly artificial depiction (if the street gangs that ruled Brooklyn's mean streets in the 1950s, "Deuces Wild" draws from a phony deck.
The Seattle punk band 3 Deuces will play Diablo's Downtown Lounge, 959 Pearl St., at 9 p.m.
The seventh match went to four deuces before the Aussie clinched the game.
Although the DEUCE is not yet slated for Armywide fielding, units at Fort Lewis, Washington, will receive a few DEUCEs to test in support of the initial brigade combat teams, as the Army marches forward on its plan for transformation.
KARACHI -- Team Deuces completed unique hat-trick on Karachi Bridge Circuit when they won the Karachi Club Bridge Congress at KC Annexe on Sunday evening.
Ljubicic opted to serve first, but Murray benefited from a trio of unforced errors to earn three break points, which he squandered to go to deuce.