Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang


[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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for prestidigitator
Historical Examples
  • It was for all the world like the performance of a prestidigitator.

    King Coal Upton Sinclair
  • Such a prestidigitator as Signor Fantoccini has only to say—Presto!

    Hearts and Masks

    Harold MacGrath
  • A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • It passed before Flora's eyes like a prestidigitator's trick, so rapid as to seem unreal, and left her staring.

    The Coast of Chance Esther Chamberlain
  • After assuring himself that the coast was clear Sube drew back his sleeves in imitation of a prestidigitator.

    Sube Cane Edward Bellamy Partridge
  • At all these performances there are always amongst the spectators persons in league with the prestidigitator.

  • There appears to be no affinity between the prestidigitator and the theatrical manager, yet they both make passes.

    The New Pun Book

    Thomas A. Brown and Thomas Joseph Carey
  • Verily, love is a prestidigitator who can change the lion into the lamb as easily as a handkerchief into a flower-pot!

    Mrs. Craddock W. Somerset Maugham
British Dictionary definitions for prestidigitator


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for prestidigitator

1843, from French prestidigitateur, a hybrid 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 Latin praestigiator "juggler" (see prestigious); influenced by Italian presto "quick," a conjuror's word (see presto), and by Latin digitus "finger" (see digit).



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for prestidigitation

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for prestidigitator

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for prestidigitator