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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
Historical Examples
  • He had not yet learned to keep away from the shell-game wagons that followed the circus.

    O Pioneers! Willa Cather
  • I got the school by a sort of shell-game, which the board worked on themselves.

    The Brown Mouse Herbert Quick
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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