how the cards lie

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
“No, there ain’t nothing, dearie. You’ll just need to be patient awhile, and then you’ll be all right. Put your head up ag’in me like that, and then you’ll feel bullier. It ain’t easy to talk when your lips is like leather, but I guess I’d best let you know how the cards lie. What’s that you’ve got?”

Excerpt From
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Arthur Conan Doyle
This material may be protected by copyright.

Hi. Does the bold part mean “I’ll tell you the truth”?
Thank you.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree. "How the cards lie" means "what the situation is". We also say "how things are", or to emphasize "how things really are".

    All of these are used in modern AE.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's a reference to playing cards, I imagine. How well you will do in a card came depends on the cards that were dealt to you. With good cards, you can expect to do well.

    Lie has the meaning of being in a certain state in this context. You could speak of a golfer in a tournament and say he currently lies in seventh place. That's his "state", his situation, in this tournament at this moment.

    So this is referring to the "state" of the figurative "cards" in your hand. Do you have good cards, is the situation in your favor? Or do you have bad cards, is the situation going against you?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Lie has the meaning of being in a certain state in this context. You could speak of a golfer in a tournament and say he currently lies in seventh place. That's his "state", his situation, in this tournament at this moment.
    A golfer's lie is where his ball is on the course. He has a bad lie since his ball landed behind that tree.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In many solitaire (play alone) card games, some of the cards lie on the table.

    Whether this round will be difficult or hard depends on how those cards lie: how they are arranged.

    For each round, that is your starting situation: how the cards lie.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top