have (something) up (one's) sleeve

(redirected from they have something up their sleeves)

have (something) up (one's) sleeve

To have a secret plan, idea, or advantage that can be utilized if and when it is required. A reference to cheating at a card game by hiding a favorable card up one's sleeve. I have a few tricks up my sleeve if he decides to pursue legal action against me. She has all the details of their unscrupulous business practices up her sleeve if they ever try to fire her.
See also: have, sleeve, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

have something up one's sleeve

 and have an ace up one's sleeve
Fig. to have a secret or surprise plan or solution (to a problem). (Alludes to cheating at cards by having a card hidden in one's sleeve.) I've got something up my sleeve, and it should solve all your problems. I'll tell you what it is after I'm elected. The manager has an ace up her sleeve. She'll surprise us with it later.
See also: have, sleeve, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

have something up your sleeve

COMMON If you have something up your sleeve, you have a secret idea or plan which you can use to gain an advantage over other people. Paterson had another plan up his sleeve, however. If that failed, he had one final trick up his sleeve. We would wait to see what Bill had up his sleeve. Note: You can also just talk about something, such as a plan or a trick, that is up someone's sleeve. The manager insisted his team will use every trick up their sleeve to defeat their rivals. Note: The expressions have an ace up your sleeve and have a card up your sleeve mean the same. He always seems to have an ace up his sleeve to deal with these kinds of situations. Even his critics admit that he seems always to have a card up his sleeve. Note: If someone wanted to cheat at cards, they could hide a good card up their sleeve to use at an appropriate time.
See also: have, sleeve, something, up
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

have/keep something up your ˈsleeve

(informal) have a good idea, plan or piece of information which you are not telling anyone about now, but which you intend to use later: John was smiling to himself all through the meeting; I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve.
See also: have, keep, sleeve, something, up
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

up one's sleeve, to have something

To have a hidden surprise or resource in reserve. The idea of keeping something up one’s sleeve dates at least from the sixteenth century, when clothes generally had no pockets and sleeves were a usual storage place. “He had contrary Edicts from the King in his sleeve,” wrote F. de L’Isle (Legendarie, 1577), and his meaning was probably both literal and figurative. In the nineteenth century a dishonest card shark might have an ace up his sleeve, an expression that came to be used figuratively in the same way.
See also: have, something, to, up
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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