prestidigitator

prestidigitation

[pres-ti-dij-i-tey-shuhn]
noun
sleight of hand; legerdemain.

Origin:
1855–60; < French: literally, ready-fingeredness, coinage perhaps based on prestigiateur juggler, conjurer, derivative of Latin praestīgiae juggler's tricks (see prestige). See prest1, digit, -ation

prestidigitator, noun
prestidigitatory [pres-ti-dij-i-tuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] , prestidigitatorial, adjective
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World English Dictionary
prestidigitation (ˌprɛstɪˌdɪdʒɪˈteɪʃən)
 
n
another name for sleight of hand
 
[C19: from French: quick-fingeredness, from Latin praestigiae feats of juggling, tricks, probably influenced by French preste nimble, and Latin digitus finger; see prestige]
 
presti'digitator
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

prestidigitator
1843, from Fr. prestidigitateur, coined 1830 by Jules de Rovère (who sought a new word, "qui s'accorderait mieux à ses nobles origines" to replace escamoteur and physicien), roughly based on L. præstigiator "juggler" (see prestigious); infl. by It.
presto "quick," a conjuror's word (see presto), and by L. digitus "finger" (see digit).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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