parlor trick


variants US parlor trick or British parlour trick
plural parlor tricks
: a usually simple trick or demonstration that is used especially to entertain or amuse guests
… this book … includes classic parlor tricks such as piercing a balloon with a needle without popping it, and yanking a tablecloth out from under bottles and plates. Dolly Setton
sometimes used figuratively
Their game is an illusion, a political parlor trick: Hold down funding for key priorities, such as K-12 education, or universities, and then when revenues create a surplus, call it an "overpayment" by taxpayers. Mike OwenMethods of reporting change, and with the fierce competition of the Internet age, many reporters have resorted to ambush journalism or other parlor tricks. David Yas

Word History

First Known Use

1855, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of parlor trick was in 1855

Dictionary Entries Near parlor trick

Cite this Entry

“Parlor trick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

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