smoke and mirrors

plural noun

Definition of smoke and mirrors

: 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 Unfortunately, that’s more carrier smoke and mirrors. Washington Post, "5G is the least compelling thing about the iPhone 12," 23 Oct. 2020 To Galloway, Palantir is just more Silicon Valley smoke and mirrors (even if it is no longer based in the valley). Michael Steinberger, New York Times, "Does Palantir See Too Much?," 21 Oct. 2020 This is the time where the places that were operating kind of with smoke and mirrors can’t stay alive anymore. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Owner of downtown Detroit's SavannahBlue restaurant: 'This is ... survival of the fittest'," 14 Oct. 2020 That’s smoke and mirrors, and the stakes are too high — not only for the soul of America, but for each and every one of ours, who gave in to this culture of death. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "It’s a Battle for the Soul of America — But Joe Biden Is on the Wrong Side," 17 Aug. 2020 While mostly elaborate smoke and mirrors—motion tracking plus wraparound screens and just the right amount of sensory deprivation—virtual reality, as a medium, conveys a sense of being that most mediums don't. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Half-Life: Alyx Shows VR's Power, but Might Not Win Converts," 25 Mar. 2020 The Patriots won their ninth game of the season on Sunday, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, but Brady has lost all patience with a sputtering attack that is relying on smoke and mirrors and more tricks than a Las Vegas magician., "Against Eagles, fuming Tom Brady loses patience with offense of smoke and mirrors," 18 Nov. 2019 Boxing remains a realm of smoke and mirrors, perhaps even more so now with the sport’s talent pool shallower than it’s ever been. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter is an appetizer to a main course that may never get served," 26 Sep. 2019 As pressure for reform builds, investors should be alert to companies playing smoke and mirrors, something Standard Chartered Plc was accused of recently. Chris Bryant | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Your Boss Doesn’t Need a Ferrari Allowance," 12 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smoke and mirrors.' 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 smoke and mirrors

1979, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smoke and mirrors

Time Traveler for smoke and mirrors

Time Traveler

The first known use of smoke and mirrors was in 1979

See more words from the same year

Statistics for smoke and mirrors

Cite this Entry

“Smoke and mirrors.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for smoke and mirrors

smoke and mirrors


English Language Learners Definition of smoke and mirrors

chiefly US : something that seems good but is not real or effective and that is done especially to take attention away from something else that is embarrassing or unpleasant

Comments on smoke and mirrors

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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