Definition of prestidigitation in US English:



  • Magic tricks performed as entertainment.

    • ‘His prestidigitation continues to baffle not just batsmen but biomechanists appointed by the ICC to determine its legality.’
    • ‘There's a whole lot of prestidigitation going on.’
    • ‘If you buy into such narrative bribery and presentational prestidigitation, you'll gladly go along with whatever is offered.’
    • ‘It's ethical prestidigitation with ‘moral equivalence’ used for misdirection only.’
    • ‘They also wish to control the world through the use of prestidigitation, strengthened by their alliance with the Secret Order of Clowns and Balloon Animal Artisans.’
    • ‘We do not understand how they came to have this authority over our elected politicians; and we do not understand how we may remove them from office, since they seem to have simply appeared, by Prescottian prestidigitation.’
    • ‘He somehow manages an amazing bit of film production prestidigitation that has us forgetting that we are seeing some rather stupid stuff scuttle across the screen.’
    • ‘By leaps and bounds, what I saw Kreskin perform on this DVD was the worst display of prestidigitation in my life.’
    • ‘In a display of fine and somehow entirely Hispanic prestidigitation, he makes the fish his yo-yo.’
    • ‘Or maybe its a little pugilistic prestidigitation to avoid showing an aging action queen huffing and puffing in between roundhouses.’
    • ‘A math professor at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., Benjamin has brought his particular brand of prestidigitation to a wide variety of appreciative audiences.’
    • ‘But in fact his very impatience, which makes him barge his way through the first couple of minutes of the piece, produces the most incredible feats of prestidigitation.’
    • ‘Behind that prestidigitation was KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh's owned-and-operated affiliate, and the Time Machine video compressor trademarked by Prime Image.’
    • ‘With an accent so thick it's almost racist and a manner that's half passionate, half prestidigitation, he is a wizard of wanting and a sorcerer of the single lady.’
    • ‘So we all should be careful to keep our eyes on the real issue and not be distracted by all the prestidigitation in the media.’
    • ‘The twin deficits will continue to baffle commentators who are too dim-witted to understand that they have fallen victim to clever prestidigitation.’
    • ‘And yet, the very transparency of her sculptures, drawings and prints - a transparency of process, as well as of form - is itself a kind of prestidigitation.’
    • ‘Trying to prove that prestidigitation is easy once you know the secret, the foreign know-it-all explains the basics of magic.’
    • ‘Perhaps you would like to see a little bit of legerdemain, or a paltry amount of prestidigitation, or a conundrum of conjuring.’
    • ‘He didn't create a company that fundamentally revolutionized the world by financial prestidigitation or by taking advantage of natural resources [e.g., coal or oil].’
    • ‘Like so many young writers, Foer is steeped in the wink-wink orthodoxies of postmodernism; but unlike so many of them he has put his narrative prestidigitation in the service of some very serious themes.’
    sleight of hand, juggling, conjuring, magic, wizardry, illusion, dexterity
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Mid 19th century: from French, from preste ‘nimble’ + Latin digitus ‘finger’ + -ation.