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[pres-ti-dij-i-tey-shuh n] /ˌprɛs tɪˌdɪdʒ ɪˈteɪ ʃən/
sleight of hand; legerdemain.
Origin of prestidigitation
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
Related forms
prestidigitator, noun
[pres-ti-dij-i-tuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌprɛs tɪˈdɪdʒ ɪ təˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
prestidigitatorial, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for prestidigitation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • An he's more light-fingered than his predecessor, he's a master of prestidigitation!

    Under the Rose

    Frederic Stewart Isham
  • All these extraordinary manœuvres cannot be attributed to prestidigitation.

    Mysterious Psychic Forces Camille Flammarion
  • I hope to convince the reader that these things really exist, and are neither illusions nor farces, nor feats of prestidigitation.

    Mysterious Psychic Forces Camille Flammarion
  • The Theosophical craze of recent years has had its influence on prestidigitation.

  • In St. Petersburg great and incredible examples of mystification and of prestidigitation were told about him.

  • A perfect technic is more than a wonderful power of prestidigitation, or facility in the manipulation of an instrument.

  • The other line of argument raises more subtle intellectual issues and is not a mere matter of prestidigitation.

    A Revision of the Treaty John Maynard Keynes
  • He had emptied the pockets of his companions by a kind of prestidigitation quite incomprehensible to them.

    The Graysons Edward Eggleston
  • It was prestidigitation for all concerned—only the side of the children of Israel was espoused in the recital.

    Visionaries James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for prestidigitation


another name for sleight of hand
Derived Forms
prestidigitator, noun
Word Origin
C19: from French: quick-fingeredness, from Latin praestigiae feats of juggling, tricks, probably influenced by French preste nimble, and Latin digitus finger; see prestige
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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Word Origin and History for prestidigitation

1843, from French prestidigitation, which was coined along with prestidigitator (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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