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shell game

See more synonyms for shell game on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a sleight-of-hand swindling game resembling thimblerig but employing walnut shells or the like instead of thimblelike cups.
  2. any deceit, swindle, fraud, or the like.
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Origin of shell game

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shell game

Historical Examples

  • He had not yet learned to keep away from the shell-game wagons that followed the circus.

    O Pioneers!

    Willa Cather

  • I got the school by a sort of shell-game, which the board worked on themselves.

    The Brown Mouse

    Herbert Quick


British Dictionary definitions for shell game

shell game

noun
  1. the US name for thimblerig
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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