shell game


a sleight-of-hand swindling game resembling thimblerig but employing walnut shells or the like instead of thimblelike cups.
any deceit, swindle, fraud, or the like.

Nearby words

  1. shelikof strait,
  2. shell,
  3. shell back,
  4. shell bean,
  5. shell company,
  6. shell gland,
  7. shell jacket,
  8. shell out,
  9. shell pink,
  10. shell program

Origin of shell game

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shell game

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

    The Brown Mouse|Herbert Quick
  • He had not yet learned to keep away from the shell-game wagons that followed the circus.

    O Pioneers!|Willa Cather

British Dictionary definitions for shell game

shell game


the US name for thimblerig
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