laugh up one's sleeve


  1. the part of a garment that covers the arm, varying in form and length but commonly tubular.
  2. an envelope, usually of paper, for protecting a phonograph record.
  3. Machinery. a tubular piece, as of metal, fitting over a rod or the like.

verb (used with object), sleeved, sleev·ing.

  1. to furnish with sleeves.
  2. Machinery. to fit with a sleeve; join or fasten by means of a sleeve.


  1. have something up one’s sleeve, to have a secret plan, scheme, opinion, or the like: I could tell by her sly look that she had something up her sleeve.
  2. laugh up/in one’s sleeve, to be secretly amused or contemptuous; laugh inwardly: to laugh up one’s sleeve at someone’s affectations.


  1. the part of a garment covering the arm
  2. a tubular piece that is forced or shrunk into a cylindrical bore to reduce the diameter of the bore or to line it with a different material; liner
  3. a tube fitted externally over two cylindrical parts in order to join them; bush
  4. a flat cardboard or plastic container to protect a gramophone recordUS name: jacket
  5. roll up one’s sleeves to prepare oneself for work, a fight, etc
  6. up one’s sleeve secretly ready


  1. (tr) to provide with a sleeve or sleeves

n.Old English sliefe (West Saxon), slefe (Mercian) “arm-covering part of a garment,” probably literally “that into which the arm slips,” from Proto-Germanic *slaubjon (cf. Middle Low German sloven “to dress carelessly,” Old High German sloufen “to put on or off”). Related to Old English slefan, sliefan “to slip on (clothes)” and slupan “to slip, glide,” from PIE root *sleubh- “to slide, slip.” Cf. slipper, Old English slefescoh “slipper,” slip (n.) “woman’s garment,” and expression to slip into “to dress in”). Mechanical sense is attested from 1864. To have something up one’s sleeve is recorded from c.1500 (large sleeves formerly doubled as pockets). Meaning “the English Channel” translates French La Manche. To be secretly amused at something: “Arnie acted concerned over our plight, but we knew he was laughing up his sleeve.” Rejoice or exult secretly, hide one’s amusement, as in When she tripped over her bridal train, her sister couldn’t help laughing up her sleeve. This expression replaced the earlier laugh in one’s sleeve, used by Richard Sheridan in The Rivals (1775): “’Tis false, sir, I know you are laughing in your sleeve.” The expression, which alludes to hiding one’s laughter in big loose sleeves, was already a proverb in the mid-1500s. see card up one’s sleeve; laugh up one’s sleeve; roll up one’s sleeves; wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.

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