Definition of legerdemain
- displays legerdemain with cards and coins
- a remarkable piece of diplomatic legerdemain
- —Anthony West
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'legerdemain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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."
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
artfulness, caginess (also cageyness), craftiness, cunning, deviousness, foxiness, oiliness, shadiness, sharpness, shiftiness, shrewdness, slickness, slipperiness, slyness, sneakiness, treachery, underhandedness, wiliness;
: skill in using your hands to perform magic tricks
What made you want to look up legerdemain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz