Meaning of prestidigitation in English:


Pronunciation /ˌprɛstɪˌdɪdʒɪˈteɪʃ(ə)n/


mass noun formal
  • Conjuring tricks performed as entertainment.

    ‘Perhaps you would like to see a little bit of legerdemain, or a paltry amount of prestidigitation, or a conundrum of conjuring.’
    • ‘By leaps and bounds, what I saw Kreskin perform on this DVD was the worst display of prestidigitation in my life.’
    • ‘It's ethical prestidigitation with ‘moral equivalence’ used for misdirection only.’
    • ‘We do not understand how they came to have this authority over our elected politicians; and we do not understand how we may remove them from office, since they seem to have simply appeared, by Prescottian prestidigitation.’
    • ‘There's a whole lot of prestidigitation going on.’
    • ‘His prestidigitation continues to baffle not just batsmen but biomechanists appointed by the ICC to determine its legality.’
    • ‘In a display of fine and somehow entirely Hispanic prestidigitation, he makes the fish his yo-yo.’
    • ‘Like so many young writers, Foer is steeped in the wink-wink orthodoxies of postmodernism; but unlike so many of them he has put his narrative prestidigitation in the service of some very serious themes.’
    • ‘Behind that prestidigitation was KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh's owned-and-operated affiliate, and the Time Machine video compressor trademarked by Prime Image.’
    • ‘A math professor at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., Benjamin has brought his particular brand of prestidigitation to a wide variety of appreciative audiences.’
    • ‘And yet, the very transparency of her sculptures, drawings and prints - a transparency of process, as well as of form - is itself a kind of prestidigitation.’
    • ‘He didn't create a company that fundamentally revolutionized the world by financial prestidigitation or by taking advantage of natural resources [e.g., coal or oil].’
    • ‘But in fact his very impatience, which makes him barge his way through the first couple of minutes of the piece, produces the most incredible feats of prestidigitation.’
    • ‘They also wish to control the world through the use of prestidigitation, strengthened by their alliance with the Secret Order of Clowns and Balloon Animal Artisans.’
    • ‘The twin deficits will continue to baffle commentators who are too dim-witted to understand that they have fallen victim to clever prestidigitation.’
    • ‘He somehow manages an amazing bit of film production prestidigitation that has us forgetting that we are seeing some rather stupid stuff scuttle across the screen.’
    • ‘Or maybe its a little pugilistic prestidigitation to avoid showing an aging action queen huffing and puffing in between roundhouses.’
    • ‘If you buy into such narrative bribery and presentational prestidigitation, you'll gladly go along with whatever is offered.’
    • ‘Trying to prove that prestidigitation is easy once you know the secret, the foreign know-it-all explains the basics of magic.’
    • ‘So we all should be careful to keep our eyes on the real issue and not be distracted by all the prestidigitation in the media.’
    sleight of hand, juggling, conjuring, magic, prestidigitation, wizardry, illusion, dexterity


Mid 19th century from French, from preste ‘nimble’ + Latin digitus ‘finger’ + -ation.