Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

legerdemain

play
noun leg·er·de·main \ˌle-jər-də-ˈmān\

Simple Definition of legerdemain

  • : skill in using your hands to perform magic tricks

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of legerdemain

  1. 1 :  sleight of hand

  2. 2 :  a display of skill or adroitness

Examples of legerdemain in a sentence

  1. <the illusionist's show is an entertaining blend of legerdemain and over-the-top showmanship>

  2. <the reduction of the deficit is due in part to financial legerdemain that masks the true costs of running the government>



Did You Know?

In Middle French, folks who were clever enough to fool others with fast-fingered illusions were described as "leger de main," literally "light of hand." English speakers condensed that phrase into a noun when they borrowed it in the 15th century and began using it as an alternative to the older "sleight of hand." (That term for dexterity or skill in using one's hands makes use of "sleight," an old word from Middle English that derives from an Old Norse word meaning "sly.") In more modern times, a feat of legerdemain can even be accomplished without using your hands, as in, for example "an impressive bit of financial legerdemain."

Origin of legerdemain

Middle English, from Middle French leger de main light of hand


First Known Use: 15th century

Other Performing Arts Terms



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up legerdemain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to manage or play awkwardly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce disapprove soothe perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ