prestidigitation was our Word of the Day on 10/25/2013. Hear the podcast!
Examples of prestidigitation in a Sentence
Houdini's powers of prestidigitation remain legendary to this very day.
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."
Origin and Etymology of prestidigitation
French, from prestidigitateur prestidigitator, from preste nimble, quick (from Italian presto) + Latin digitus finger — more at digit
First Known Use: 1859
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