up one's sleeve, to have something

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. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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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