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See also: léger de main



From Middle English legerdemeyn, lechardemane, from Old French léger de main (literally light of hand), a phrase that meant “dexterous, skillful at fooling others (especially through sleights of hand”), which was however treated as a noun when it was borrowed by late Middle English. The Modern French descendant léger de main of the Old French phrase is archaic but still sometimes found in older literature and simply means “skillful” without any connotation of sleight of hand.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌlɛd͡ʒ.ə.dɨˈmeɪn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈlɛd͡ʒ.əɹ.dəˌmeɪn/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -eɪn
  • Hyphenation: leg‧er‧de‧main


legerdemain (usually uncountable, plural legerdemains)

  1. Sleight of hand; "magic" trickery.
  2. A show of skill or deceitful ability.
    • 1673, Gilbert Burnet, The mystery of iniquity unvailed, London, page 128:
      Certainly, that they are to this day so rife in Italy and Spain, and so scant in Britain, is a shrewd ground to apprehend Legerdemain, and forgery, in the accounts we get of their later Saints.



Further reading[edit]