Definition of legerdemain
1 : sleight of hand displays legerdemain with cards and coins
2 : a display of skill or adroitness a remarkable piece of diplomatic legerdemain — Anthony West
legerdemain was our Word of the Day on 01/26/2015. Hear the podcast!
Examples of legerdemain in a sentence
the illusionist's show is an entertaining blend of legerdemain and over-the-top showmanship
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 and Etymology of legerdemain
Middle English, from Middle French leger de main light of hand
First Known Use: 15th century
LEGERDEMAIN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of legerdemain for English Language Learners
: skill in using your hands to perform magic tricks
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).