Chiefly Scot. a magic spell; trick by sorcery.
Chiefly British. artful shamming meant to deceive.

Origin of cantrip

1710–20; apparently dissimilated variant of Old English calcatrippe; see caltrop Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cantrip

Historical Examples of cantrip

  • What if the extremities were blue after all, and Cantrip right?

    The Burglars' Club

    Henry A. Hering

  • Lady Cantrip wanted to ask me something about it, and so I went down.

    The Duke's Children

    Anthony Trollope

  • I remember how Cantrip almost cried when he told me you were going to leave him.

    Phineas Redux

    Anthony Trollope

  • He could not, however, make Lord Cantrip understand the whole truth.

    Phineas Finn

    Anthony Trollope

  • Gresham and Cantrip with their own friends can hardly make a Ministry as things are now unless Mr. Monk will join them.

    The Prime Minister

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for cantrip



a magic spell
(often plural) a mischievous trick


(of an effect) produced by black magic

Word Origin for cantrip

C18: Scottish, of unknown origin
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