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shell game

a sleight-of-hand swindling game resembling thimblerig but employing walnut shells or the like instead of thimblelike cups.
any deceit, swindle, fraud, or the like.
Origin of shell game
1885-90, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shell game
  • It's a shell game that westerners aren't as good in playing.
  • The pea in the old shell game was often easier to find than is the truth in our courts of law.
British Dictionary definitions for shell game

shell game

the US name for thimblerig
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for shell game


  1. A beating: ''Shellacking'' and numerous other phrases are employed by the police as euphemisms
  2. A decisive defeat; a drubbing; an utter rout: Should Black take a shellacking, the National Leaguers are in bad trouble (1931+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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