Webster: British, informal :to do or provide what is necessary in order to succeed ( especially when unexpected) Ex: The team turned up trumps in the final game and won the championship.

I've been looking everywhere but no luck. Best I could come up with is " come through", but that's still a way off.

  • 1
    If you're playing Backalley or some such card game you could play the trump suite and win. But to use that in games where there are no trumps would sound weird, although not incomprehensible. In the US a ball-based analogy would be more popular: they pulled a hail-mary (i.e. football reference for a play that's a "long shot" [another option]) or some such. Sep 21, 2017 at 21:55
  • Is that the main definition of the term? I thought it had at least as much to do with a fortunate outcome as the effort needed for such an outcome (it's an idiom based on the luck of the draw, after all).
    – 1006a
    Sep 21, 2017 at 21:58
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    "But do you hear 'come up trumps' in the States?" From British people. Sep 21, 2017 at 22:24
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    By that definition, your own "come through" sounds about right, or maybe "come through in the clutch". Why do you say it's a way off?
    – 1006a
    Sep 22, 2017 at 3:20
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    @1006a come through in the clutch is about the same thing though. That was the missing part to get it over the line. Thanks a lot
    – Daniel
    Sep 22, 2017 at 7:32

3 Answers 3


pulled it off, as defined by The Free Dictionary:

pull off something also pull something off: to succeed in doing something difficult or unexpected.

Examples given by TFD:

He won five straight games and pulled off one of the tournament's biggest upsets.

I don't know how you pulled it off, but we're now $5,000 richer than we were yesterday.

In the OP's example:

The team pulled it off in the final game and won the championship.

By coincidence, the Washington Post used the phrase today (09/22/17) in a story about Sen. McConnell's new drive for ACA [Obamacare] repeal:

By the middle of next week, McConnell might pull off the victory for Strange [who is running for the seat vacated by Sessions when he became Attorney General] and have the votes lined up to pass the ACA repeal, which would his best week as leader since Trump took office. (emphasis added)


I've heard the phrase pulling out all the stops for this sort of effect in common use in the US. Normally, this carries the connotation of removing the blocks and inhibitions one would have to jump in and do what needs to be done. Sometimes it is used as a desperation move, and in other cases, might simply be to go all out on something.

Likewise, to do something with no holds barred has a similar feeling.


The phrase "go above and beyond" is one example. There are probably others not coming to my mind right now.

"The team went above and beyond in the final game and won the championship."

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