• legerdemain
  • audio pronunciation
  • \lej-er-duh-MAYN\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
: sleight of hand
2
: a display of skill and adroitness
  • EXAMPLES

The company's accountants used financial legerdemain to conceal its true revenues and avoided paying $2 million in taxes as a result.

"U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is trying for a bit of late-session congressional magic to finally get some movement on proposals to increase federal timber harvests in western Oregon. The Oregon Democrat has pulled off some last-minute feats of legislative legerdemain in the past, so it's not at all out of the question that he can do it again…." — The Associated Press, November 17, 2014

  • 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."

Word Family Quiz: What word is derived from French leger, meaning "light," and refers to quickness of mind or body? The answer is …

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