Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A playing card having two spots or the side of a die bearing two pips.
  • n. A cast of dice totaling two.
  • n. A tied score in tennis in which each player or side has 40 points, or 5 or more games, and one player or side must win 2 successive points to win the game, or 2 successive games to win the set.
  • transitive v. To make the score of (a tennis game or set) deuce.
  • n. The devil: "Love is a bodily infirmity . . . which breaks out the deuce knows how or why” ( Thackeray).
  • n. An outstanding example, especially of something difficult or bad: had a deuce of a time getting out of town; a deuce of a family row.
  • n. A severe reprimand or expression of anger: got the deuce for being late.
  • n. Used as an intensive: What the deuce were they thinking of?

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A card with two spots, one of four in a standard deck of playing cards.
  • n. A side of a die with two spots.
  • n. A cast of dice totalling two.
  • n. The number two.
  • n. A tie, both players have the same number of points and one can win by scoring two additional points.
  • n. A curveball
  • n. A table seating two diners.
  • n. The Devil, used in exclamations of confusion or anger

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Two; a card or a die with two spots.
  • n. A condition of the score beginning whenever each side has won three strokes in the same game (also reckoned “40 all”), and reverted to as often as a tie is made until one of the sides secures two successive strokes following a tie or deuce, which decides the game.
  • n. The devil; a demon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The devil: used, with or without the definite article, chiefly in exclamatory or interjectional phrases, expressing surprise, impatience, or emphasis: as, deuce take you! go to the deuce! the deuce you did!
  • n. In cards and other games, two; a card or die with two spots.
  • n. In lawn-tennis, a stage of the game in which both players or sides have scored 40, and one must score 2, or, if the other has vantage, 3 points in succession in order to win the game.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tie in tennis or table tennis that requires winning two successive points to win the game
  • n. one of the four playing cards in a deck that have two spots
  • n. the cardinal number that is the sum of one and one or a numeral representing this number
  • n. a word used in exclamations of confusion

Etymologies

Middle English deus, from Old French, two, from Latin duōs, masculine accusative of duo; see dwo- in Indo-European roots.
Probably from Low German duus, a throw of two in dice games, bad luck, ultimately from Latin duo, two; see deuce1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French deux ("two"), from Old French deus, from Latin duo. (Wiktionary)
Compare Late Latin dusius ("phantom, specter"); Scottish Gaelic taibhs, taibhse ("apparition, ghost"); or from Old French deus ("God"), from Latin deus (compare deity.) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "But what the deuce is all this?" demanded the other.

    Evelina: or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance Into the World

  • 'After all,' said Darwin the other day, 'what the deuce is Carlyle's religion, or has he any?'

    Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • And the Caroline C----- (who the deuce is she that writes such a scratchy, illegible hand?) sends her love to Mrs. Carlyle, and proposes to 'talk to her about Amisfield and

    Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • But to point out the faults of this composition would be absurd indeed, for they are innumerable and glaring, and the deuce is in it, if Mr. Beddoes does not wonder at himself and his play, before he is three-and-twenty.

    Review

  • And who the deuce is Mr. Edgar Percival Clerimont?

    Introduction

  • “What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun.

    May I Be Excused? My Brain Is Full.

  • I was pretty affable myself, just then, and pretended not to hear one or two of the more jealous remarks that were dropped - about how odd it was that Her Majesty hadn't chosen one of the purple brigade to squire her young cousin, not so much as Guardee even, but a plain Mr - and who the deuce were the Flashmans anyway?

    The Sky Writer

  • Now give it to-to - [stamps his foot] — what the deuce is her name? — give it to the maid, and tell her to take it at once to the Mayor.

    An Enemy of the People

  • ‘What the deuce is the matter with him?’ exclaimed Crowl, throwing the door open.

    Nicholas Nickleby

  • And my lord looked at him with a noble curiosity, as much as to say, “Who the deuce was the barber-surgeon? and who the devil are you?”

    The Newcomes

Comments

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  • "There was a vast amount of red--good to see at any time, because one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange..." --Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    March 5, 2011

  • My hero.

    October 12, 2007

  • "What the deuce...?" --Stewie Griffin

    March 6, 2007