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[trik] /trɪk/
a crafty or underhanded device, maneuver, stratagem, or the like, intended to deceive or cheat; artifice; ruse; wile.
an optical illusion:
It must have been some visual trick caused by the flickering candlelight.
a roguish or mischievous act; practical joke; prank:
She likes to play tricks on her friends.
a mean, foolish, or childish action.
a clever or ingenious device or expedient; adroit technique:
the tricks of the trade.
the art or knack of doing something skillfully:
You seem to have mastered the trick of making others laugh.
a clever or dexterous feat intended to entertain, amuse, etc.:
He taught his dog some amazing tricks.
a feat of magic or legerdemain:
card tricks.
a behavioral peculiarity; trait; habit; mannerism.
a period of duty or turn; stint; tour of duty:
I relieved the pilot after he had completed his trick at the wheel.
  1. the group or set of cards played and won in one round.
  2. a point or scoring unit.
  3. a card that is a potential winner.
    Compare honor trick.
Informal. a child or young girl:
a pretty little trick.
  1. a prostitute's customer.
  2. a sexual act between a prostitute and a customer.
  1. a preliminary sketch of a coat of arms.
  2. engraver's trick.
of, pertaining to, characterized by, or involving tricks:
trick shooting.
designed or used for tricks:
a trick chair.
(of a joint) inclined to stiffen or weaken suddenly and unexpectedly:
a trick shoulder.
verb (used with object)
to deceive by trickery.
Heraldry. to indicate the tinctures of (a coat of arms) with engraver's tricks.
to cheat or swindle (usually followed by out of):
to trick someone out of an inheritance.
to beguile by trickery (usually followed by into).
verb (used without object)
to practice trickery or deception; cheat.
to play tricks; trifle (usually followed by with).
Slang. to engage in sexual acts for hire.
Verb phrases
trick out, Informal. to embellish or adorn with or as if with ornaments or other attention-getting devices.
do / turn the trick, to achieve the desired effect or result:
Another turn of the pliers should do the trick.
turn a trick, Slang. (of a prostitute) to engage in a sexual act with a customer.
Origin of trick
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English trik (noun) < Old North French trique deceit, derivative of trikier to deceive < Vulgar Latin *triccāre, for Latin trīcārī to play tricks
Related forms
tricker, noun
trickingly, adverb
outtrick, verb (used with object)
untricked, adjective
1. deception. T rick , artifice , ruse , stratagem , wile are terms for crafty or cunning devices that are intended to deceive. T rick , the general term, refers usually to an underhanded act designed to cheat someone, but it sometimes refers merely to a pleasurable deceiving of the senses: to win by a trick. Like trick , but to a greater degree, artifice emphasizes the cleverness, ingenuity, or cunning with which the proceeding is devised: an artifice of diabolical ingenuity. R use and stratagem emphasize the purpose for which the trick is designed; ruse is the more general term of the two, and stratagem sometimes implies a more elaborate procedure or a military application: He gained entrance by a ruse. His stratagem gave them command of the hill. W ile emphasizes the disarming effect of the trick upon those who are deceived: His wiles charmed them into trusting him. 18. See cheat. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for tricks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The tricks he had learned in Scotland served him in good stead now.

    The Five Arrows Allan Chase
  • Each one is suggesting all the time the use of the tricks of language which he has adopted.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Bernard, the yard-dog, is a lumbering old fellow, with no tricks.

    Melchior's Dream and Other Tales Juliana Horatia Ewing
  • It was another of his tricks, and he should not profane the church.

    The heart of happy hollow Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Yet her tricks are harmless, and she herself is full of kindness.'

    Undine Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
British Dictionary definitions for tricks


a deceitful, cunning, or underhand action or plan
  1. a mischievous, malicious, or humorous action or plan; joke: the boys are up to their tricks again
  2. (as modifier): a trick spider
an illusory or magical feat or device
a simple feat learned by an animal or person
an adroit or ingenious device; knack: a trick of the trade
a behavioural trait, habit, or mannerism
a turn or round of duty or work
  1. a batch of cards containing one from each player, usually played in turn and won by the player or side that plays the card with the highest value
  2. a card that can potentially win a trick
(Austral, slang) can't take a trick, to be consistently unsuccessful or unlucky
(informal) do the trick, to produce the right or desired result
(slang) how's tricks?, how are you?
(slang) turn a trick, (of a prostitute) to gain a customer
to defraud, deceive, or cheat (someone), esp by means of a trick
Derived Forms
tricker, noun
trickless, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old Northern French trique, from trikier to deceive, from Old French trichier, ultimately from Latin trīcārī to play tricks
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 tricks



early 15c., "a cheat, a mean ruse," from Old North French trique "trick, deceit, treachery, cheating," from trikier "to deceive, to cheat," variant of Old French trichier, probably from Vulgar Latin *triccare, from Latin tricari "be evasive, shuffle," from tricæ "trifles, nonsense, a tangle of difficulties," of unknown origin.

Meaning "a roguish prank" is recorded from 1580s; sense of "the art of doing something" is first attested 1610s. Meaning "prostitute's client" is first attested 1915; earlier it was U.S. slang for "a robbery" (1865). Trick-or-treat is recorded from 1942.


1590s, from trick (v.). Related: Tricked; tricking. An earlier sense of "to dress, adorn" (c.1500) is perhaps a different word entirely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for tricks



  1. A prostitute's client or sexual transaction: woman walking the streets for tricks to take to her room (1915+)
  2. A casual homosexual partner; number (1970s+ Homosexuals)
  3. A shift or duty period: She doesn't require any breaks at her eight-hour trick (1669+ Nautical)


  1. To serve a customer: She had tricked a john from Macon (1965+ Prostitutes)
  2. (also trick out) To do the sex act, either hetero- or homosexually; fuck: They can go ''tricking out'' with other gay people (1970s+)

Related Terms

champagne trick, hat trick, lobster shift, turn a trick

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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Idioms and Phrases with tricks
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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