keep card close to chest

(keep, play or hold) one’s card close to one’s chest


  • be secretive or cautious, give nothing away
  • to keep your plans, intentions, or thoughts hidden from others
  • to keep one’s intentions, strategies, or plans secret from everyone else
  • used when one chooses not to share his or her thoughts and ideas with other people quickly and openly

Example Sentences

  1. The children did not know where they were to go for their family holiday trip. Their dad kept his cards close to his chest.
  2. The therapist found a hard time dealing with Tim. Tim kept his cards close to his chest all through the session.
  3. The coach advised the football team to hold their cards close to their chests so that their opponents would not get to know their plan. 
  4. During the campaigns for the senate position, the aspirants kept their cards close to their chests to defeat their opponents.
  5. My brother doesn’t know how much money his friends will spend this Friday night. He keeps his card close to his chest.
  6. Keep your cards close to your chest, and don’t lay them around the table. The first thing you need to ask is the price of the car you are eyeing.
  7. Play your cards close to your chest, and be aware when opportunity knocks.


This phrase originated from America in the 1860s and was borrowed from poker, the card game. “Close to the vest” was the original phrase. This is where a player would hide hold the cards dealt with them close to their chests so that their opponents would not get to see what cards they had. Players had to keep what cards they had in their hands, hiding them close to their vests a secret from each other.



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By keeping your card close to your chest, you can easily defeat your opponent.

- Hafiza MG July 8, 2021

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bee in bonnet

Meaning: be possessed with one thought or scheme

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