bag of tricks

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An allusion to the collection of props and devices used by a magician.


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bag of tricks (plural bags of tricks)

  1. (idiomatic) A set of skills, techniques, items of information, or other resources used to help achieve professional or personal goals.
    • 1909, Rex Ellingwood Beach, chapter 13, in The Silver Horde:
      "When the time comes I'll go down in the little bag of tricks and dig up anything you need, from a jig dance to a jimmy and a bottle of soup."
    • 1922, P. G. Wodehouse, chapter 14, in Right Ho, Jeeves:
      I was expecting the tearful ticking off, the girlish recriminations and all the rest of the bag of tricks along those lines.
    • 1993 March 25, Mike Freeman, “Pro Basketball: Nets Win as Coleman Does His Superman Act”, in New York Times, retrieved 3 September 2011:
      Daly went to his bag of tricks and found, what else, a way to win.
    • 2002 October 21, Sora Song, “Body of Evidence”, in Time:
      But investigators have a hefty bag of tricks to expose them—powder, chemicals, lasers and lights.
  2. (idiomatic, dated, often preceded by whole) A collection of items, especially as constituting a very complete set of such items.
    • 1908, Jerome K. Jerome, “I Had A Vexing Dream One Night”, in The Angel and the Author; and Others:
      Instead of to the credit side of my account he had put the whole bag of tricks to my debit.
    • 1922, John Buchan, chapter 7, in Huntingtower:
      When it was built fifteen years ago it was considered a model—six bathrooms, its own electric light plant, steam heating, and independent boiler for hot water, the whole bag of tricks.