on the cards

I - O

on the cards (also known as “in the cards“)


  • Something very likely to happen, occur or take place.
  • Something is foreseen to be highly probable.
  • Something destined to come to pass.

Example sentences

  1. A promotion is in the cards for him.
  2. Do you think that Bob and Jill’s getting married is on the cards?
  3. There is no way a merger between those two companies is on the cards.
  4. She says it’s in the cards for her to move to Bristol in the near future.
  5. Some big changes in the British Space Agency structure are on the cards for next year.


“In the cards” and “on the cards” are both variants of the same phrase, with “in the cards” being more commonly used in America and “on the cards” being used more in Great Britain. Both versions of the phrase are thought to have appeared around the 1800s. However, there is at least one earlier example of it, which can be found in Charles Churchill’s poem “Independence,” written in late 1764. So, it may have first come into usage a bit earlier than generally thought. And, it is the general belief that the phrase originated in reference to cartomancy, the use of cards to tell the future, though whether in reference to Tarot cards or ordinary playing cards, as both are used in fortune-telling, is not known. But, in any case, if some event showed up in such a card reading, then that event was “in/on the cards.”

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