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

That's what the smoke and mirrors of television does to people. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Meet Bobby Feeno: Former NFL Star Arian Foster on His Rap Alter Ego and Kanye West's Tweets," 3 May 2018 Much of what was being touted turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Elizabeth Weise, azcentral, "Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and former president Balwani charged with federal fraud," 15 June 2018 Back in Season One, Dr. Ford radiated menace, intelligence, and mystery—which, in the end, turned out to be a bunch of smoke and mirrors to disguise a character arc that never really added up. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Westworld Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: Off the Rails," 28 May 2018 Those questions are all smoke and mirrors to push the subject aside, put it on the back-burner. Dan Greene,, "Ed O'Bannon: How to Fix College Sports and Revamp the Student-Athlete Experience," 9 Feb. 2018 But this was a night of heavenly smoke and mirrors, and worshiping at the altar of fashion. New York Times, "On the Met Gala Red Carpet, Playing It Unsafe," 8 May 2018 This lack of transparency is relevant because CFIUS’s actions are an important part of the global M&A process, where clear signals are preferred to smoke and mirrors. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—The Merits of Blocking Broadcom's Acquisition of Qualcomm," 15 Mar. 2018 No smoke and mirrors just a sweaty Shayna on the beach with her pasty skin and messy hair. Blake Bakkila,, "Real Women Are Spreading a Message About Body Positivity by Embracing Their Thighbrows," 22 Feb. 2018 Trump’s term in office may have begun with a noisy ejection from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but his big promise of protectionism has been mostly smoke and mirrors. David Adler, New Republic, "Right-Wing Populism Can’t Fix Globalization," 21 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of smoke and mirrors

1979, in the meaning defined above

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smoke and mirrors

smoke ball

smoke beetle

smoke black

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Time Traveler for smoke and mirrors

The first known use of smoke and mirrors was in 1979

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More Definitions for smoke and mirrors

smoke and mirrors


English Language Learners Definition of smoke and mirrors

: 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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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