Definition of prestidigitation in US English:



  • Magic tricks performed as entertainment.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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].’
    • ‘The twin deficits will continue to baffle commentators who are too dim-witted to understand that they have fallen victim to clever prestidigitation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There's a whole lot of prestidigitation going on.’
    • ‘Or maybe its a little pugilistic prestidigitation to avoid showing an aging action queen huffing and puffing in between roundhouses.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In a display of fine and somehow entirely Hispanic prestidigitation, he makes the fish his yo-yo.’
    • ‘His prestidigitation continues to baffle not just batsmen but biomechanists appointed by the ICC to determine its legality.’
    • ‘By leaps and bounds, what I saw Kreskin perform on this DVD was the worst display of prestidigitation in my life.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If you buy into such narrative bribery and presentational prestidigitation, you'll gladly go along with whatever is offered.’
    • ‘Trying to prove that prestidigitation is easy once you know the secret, the foreign know-it-all explains the basics of magic.’
    • ‘It's ethical prestidigitation with ‘moral equivalence’ used for misdirection only.’
    • ‘Perhaps you would like to see a little bit of legerdemain, or a paltry amount of prestidigitation, or a conundrum of conjuring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Behind that prestidigitation was KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh's owned-and-operated affiliate, and the Time Machine video compressor trademarked by Prime Image.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.