smoke and mirrors

plural noun

: something intended to disguise or draw attention away from an often embarrassing or unpleasant issue
usually hyphenated when used attributively

Examples of smoke and mirrors in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Gordon acknowledges that, for some, astrology is all smoke and mirrors, but encourages an open mind. Kristine Johnson, CBS News, 3 Apr. 2024 Whether the new mixture of talent and tone provides enough rationale for Netflix to invest its relatively new money is debatable for a show whose appeal, beyond the general atmosphere, mostly boils down to smoke and mirrors. Brian Lowry, CNN, 7 Mar. 2024 What Johnson built from 1989 to leading the Cowboys to a Super Bowl title in five years was done with smoke and mirrors and black magic. Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 20 Feb. 2024 But there’s not enough going on behind the virtuosic smoke and mirrors. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Jan. 2024 Putin has attempted to use smoke and mirrors to convince his population that the country still is a world leader on the global stage for space exploration. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 21 Aug. 2023 Other great reads Snoop Dogg’s apparent farewell to weed was all smoke and mirrors. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Snoop Dogg’s apparent farewell to weed was all smoke and mirrors. Emily St. Martin, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 Beware politicians who ignore causation and pivot to mitigation Political spending has foisted relentless gun and climate disinformation campaigns on the public, followed by smoke and mirrors to deflect the discourse away from causation and toward mitigation. Sabrina Haake, Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'smoke and mirrors.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1979, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of smoke and mirrors was in 1979

Dictionary Entries Near smoke and mirrors

Cite this Entry

“Smoke and mirrors.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

smoke and mirrors

: something intended to disguise or draw attention away especially from an unpleasant issue
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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