Word of the Day

Friday, February 25, 2000

prestidigitation

\pres-tuh-dij-uh-TAY-shuhn\ , noun;
1.
Skill in or performance of tricks; sleight of hand.
Quotes:
He was the man who had sat alone in a room for hundreds and hundreds of hours, his fingers manipulating cards and coins until he had learned and could perfectly reproduce every form of prestidigitation found in books of magic lore.
-- Brian Moore, The Magician's Wife
Some modern readers may be less surprised to find that efforts to use accounting prestidigitation to deflect borrowing away from current expenditure speedily came unstuck and that a return to more conventional ideas of financial integrity was rewarded by what seems to be a generation of calm, not entirely due to gaps in the record.
-- Peter Rycraft, "Fiscalitat i deute public en dues viles del camp de Tarragona: Reus i Valls, segles", English Historical Review, November 2002
One of his magician friends told me that practitioners of prestidigitation have great respect for their fellow magicians who also hold forth behind the bar.
-- Gary Regan, "Tricks and treats: cast a mystical spell on guests with a magician bartender", Nation's Restaurant News, March 3, 2003
Origin:
Prestidigitation was adopted from French, from preste, "nimble, quick" (from Italian presto, from Late Latin praestus, "ready at hand") + Latin digitus, "finger." One skilled in sleight of hand is a prestidigitator.
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