Definition of legerdemain in US English:



  • 1Skillful use of one's hands when performing conjuring tricks.

    • ‘Much to the satisfaction of legitimate entertainers, the book also expresses respect for the art of legerdemain, which it discusses using that very term.’
    • ‘Readers are invited to imagine how Copperfield will pull off this magic coup, but we reckon it will involve a couple of balls, a cup and plenty of legerdemain.’
    • ‘There were fine nuggets of legerdemain, courtesy of the illusionist Paul Kieve.’
    sleight of hand, juggling, conjuring, magic, prestidigitation, wizardry, illusion, dexterity
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    1. 1.1 Deception; trickery.
      ‘a classic piece of management legerdemain’
      • ‘What was the point of this sophisticated legerdemain with Ray's aliases?’
      • ‘And the consequence of this ill-considered commitment seems to have been the introduction of various fast-track schemes, corner cutting on entry visa requirements and other acts of legerdemain.’
      • ‘Zusi, who was not deposed for trial, denies that he ever made such threats or encouraged anyone to use accounting legerdemain to manage earnings.’
      • ‘When that logic is exposed, as in this case, as intellectual legerdemain, he retreats to pitiful, pleading casuistry.’
      • ‘Stripped to its essentials, her endeavor bestows a constitutional benediction upon the intellectual legerdemain that enables universities to practice racial discrimination.’
      • ‘In some circles, ethics experts are infamous for just this kind of psychological legerdemain.’
      • ‘Convincing voter-taxpayers that they should pay for something available for free naturally requires some political legerdemain.’
      • ‘The latter is the insidious inflation dodge, a piece of legerdemain that governments have been using over centuries to take bigger and bigger bites of your property.’
      • ‘The target of the latter piece of legislative legerdemain is the Free Software movement itself.’
      • ‘In the year since Tyco was hit with charges of accounting legerdemain, the company kept making acquisitions, though it completed fewer big ones.’
      trickery, cunning, artfulness, craftiness, craft, wiles, chicanery, skulduggery, deceit, deception, artifice, cheating, dissimulation, double-dealing, artful argument, specious reasoning, sophistry, humbug, flimflam
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Late Middle English: from French léger de main ‘dexterous’, literally ‘light of hand’.