do with mirrors

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Akin to the idea that mirrors can project images and once considered magic. Magicians use mirrors to make things look like magic, thus "do it with mirrors." Today, the phrase is more of a joking pretension that one can make things happen with magic mirrors.

Verb[edit]

do (something) with mirrors

  1. (transitive, idiomatic) To perform a magic or optical trick with the use of hidden mirrors, implying trickery and sham.
  2. (transitive, idiomatic) To jokingly pretend that one did something using magic mirrors, that one is a magician; a joking explanation of the fantastic or the unexplained.

Quotations[edit]

  • 1967, Jeanne R. Lowe, Cities in a Race with Time: Progress and Poverty in America's Renewing Cities, Random House, page 408,
    "Before, it was done so smoothly, they thought you did it with mirrors," Lee observed in the summer of 1960.
  • 1983, Christopher Durang, Titanic, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., ISBN 0822211556, page 13,
    No. It was all a trick. You only thought you gave birth. Harriet and I did it with mirrors.
  • 1989, Barbara Field, Playing With Fire (after Frankenstein), Dramatists Play Service, Inc., ISBN 0822208997 page 52
    No, no, I confess. Guilty — I killed her. I did it with mirrors.
  • 1998, Armistead Maupin, More Tales of the City, HarperCollins, ISBN 0060929383 page 169,
    "I'd like to see that topless dancer across the street who turns into a gorilla.... Just to see how they do it. With mirrors, I guess."
  • 1998, "Jesus Feeds Five Thousand", in Nick Page, The Tabloid Bible, Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 0664258433, page 123,
    "Maybe he did it with mirrors. Or perhaps he just used very thinly sliced bread...."
  • 2003, Thomas Laird, Into Tibet: The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa, Grove Press, ISBN 080213999X, page 208,
    "Sometimes you have to do things with mirrors, and since we were getting no positive reaction out of Washington, we did it with mirrors. It was not paid for by the Tibetan government."

See also[edit]