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If an expert pilot or covert operative or other specialized profession can be referred to as an "ace", is there a word that describes someone who is less experienced or lacks some of the expertise? Is it sequential? What pattern does it follow?

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In military aviation Ace is a title of achievement. To be called an Ace you must have five confirmed kills in aerial battle. –  Pete Lyons May 5 '11 at 15:49
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't believe there is a pattern to this, but there are synonyms, antonyms and ways to phrase the opposite to varying degrees of status. For instance, if we take your example in a number of forms:

  • Ace pilot
  • Distinguished pilot
  • Virtuoso pilot

Then we can construct some to refer to those lacking some skill but aspiring:

  • Amateur pilot
  • Rookie pilot
  • Novice pilot

And further, construct some to refer to those that, despite any involvement and experience, don't have skills at all really:

  • Incompetent pilot
  • Inept pilot
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I don't believe there is.

Ace: very good.

The term most likely comes from the Ace being the highest valued card in a deck of playing cards.

The playing card most likely got its name from the French word 'as' meaning 'a unit', since the ace is a representation of a single pip.

However, the lowest valued card is the 2 of clubs. Maybe you could refer to a lesser experienced person as a 'deuce'.

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Thank you, RegDwight, for editing this. –  MikeVaughan May 5 '11 at 15:57
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Using deuce to refer to a person might be slightly more insulting than intended, given this slang definition. –  KitFox May 19 '11 at 12:40
    
@Kit Haaha.. Yeah.. –  MikeVaughan May 19 '11 at 12:48
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