black art

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black art (plural black arts)

  1. (often in the plural) A practice such as witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, or black magic.
    dabbling in the black arts
    In 1690s Salem, anyone was at mortal risk of being accused of practicing the black arts.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) A process that is mysterious or difficult to master.
    Operating a hand card punch was something of a black art.
    • 2022 November 16, Graham Eccles, “The Rest Day Working saga...”, in RAIL, number 970, page 32:
      Traincrew management has always been a bit of a black art, rather than a science. The present traincrew difficulties that beset the UK rail industry are neither new nor were they unforeseeable.