sleight of hand.
trickery; deception.
any artful trick.

Origin of legerdemain

1400–50; late Middle English legerdemeyn, lygarde de mayne < Middle French: literally, light of hand
Related formsleg·er·de·main·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for legerdemain

Historical Examples of legerdemain

  • Astonishing feats of preparation were consummated as if by legerdemain.


    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Priests, however, tolerate no rivals, and permit no legerdemain but their own.

    Gerald Fitzgerald

    Charles James Lever

  • You would do, by a piece of legerdemain, what you have not the courage to attempt openly.

  • Winchester lay the fewest of miles away, but somewhere there was legerdemain.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • I admire it as a splendid piece of legerdemain; but it expresses nothing.

    Gryll Grange

    Thomas Love Peacock

British Dictionary definitions for legerdemain



another name for sleight of hand
cunning deception or trickery
Derived Formslegerdemainist, noun

Word Origin for legerdemain

C15: from Old French: light of hand
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

Word Origin and History for legerdemain

early 15c., "conjuring tricks," from Middle French léger de main "quick of hand," literally "light of hand," from léger "light" in weight (from Latin levis "light;" see lever) + main "hand" (from Latin manus; see manual).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper