prestidigitation

noun
pres·ti·dig·i·ta·tion | \ ˌpre-stə-ˌdi-jə-ˈtā-shən \

Definition of prestidigitation 

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from prestidigitation

prestidigitator \ˌpre-stə-ˈdi-jə-ˌtā-tər \ noun

Synonyms for prestidigitation

Synonyms

conjuring, hocus-pocus, legerdemain, magic

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

The secret to performing magic tricks is all in the hands-or at least, that's what is suggested by the etymologies of prestidigitation and its two synonyms legerdemain and sleight of hand. The French word preste (from Italian presto) means "quick" or "nimble," and the Latin word digitus means "finger." Put them together and-presto!-you've got prestidigitation. Similarly, legerdemain was conjured up from the Middle French phrase leger de main, which translates to "light of hand." The third term, sleight of hand, involves the least etymological hocus-pocus; it simply joins "hand" with sleight, meaning "dexterity."

Examples of prestidigitation in a Sentence

Houdini's powers of prestidigitation remain legendary to this very day.

Recent Examples on the Web

Crucially, monetary policy oriented around individuals should be easier to understand than the customary prestidigitation. The Economist, "Central banks should consider offering accounts to everyone," 26 May 2018 His songs might be usefully interpreted through that past of mingled creativity and prestidigitation. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Top Milwaukee concerts this week: Tiffany Haddish, Borns, Michael McDermott and more," 25 Jan. 2018 Javier Báez, an ebullient infielder whose prestidigitation in the field and thunderous bat helped ignite the Cubs during last year’s playoff, is twenty-four. David Axelrod, The New Yorker, "Can the Cubs Do It Again?," 24 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prestidigitation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prestidigitation

1859, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prestidigitation

French, from prestidigitateur prestidigitator, from preste nimble, quick (from Italian presto) + Latin digitus finger — more at digit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prestidigitation

Share prestidigitation

Listen to Our Podcast about prestidigitation

Statistics for prestidigitation

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prestidigitation

The first known use of prestidigitation was in 1859

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on prestidigitation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prestidigitation

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about prestidigitation

Comments on prestidigitation

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!