We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Legerdemain?

Niki Acker
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Legerdemain is a set of techniques used to create illusions for magic or card tricks. It is more commonly called sleight of hand and sometimes prestidigitation. The word comes from the French for "lightness of the hand."

One of the most difficult skills for the magician to perfect, legerdemain is also one of the most impressive. It is absolutely necessary for most close-up magic tricks, though many stage magicians make use of legerdemain as well. Magic tricks that use these techniques often involve props, such as cards or coins, that the magician manipulates in a surprising way, hopefully without the audience being able to see how it is really done.

In practice, legerdemain is much more than an agile hand. Close-up magicians and other artists often rely heavily on misdirection, in which the audience is manipulated into looking in a certain direction, freeing the magician to perform tricks outside of their gaze. Mastering misdirection is often the most challenging and the most rewarding part of becoming a successful legerdemain artist. The expert is able to execute highly choreographed tricks with apparent ease and naturalness.

Though legerdemain is often used to entertain, it can also be used to take advantage of people. It can give a card player an unfair edge over the competition and is considered a form of cheating in games of luck. Some people use these methods to con tourists out of money, as in the well-known three-shell game. Pickpockets, sometimes working in teams, are also notoriously skilled in legerdemain.

Spirit mediums during the seance craze around the turn of the 20th century were often accused of faking results through legerdemain, and many were exposed in this practice. In fact, many of the modern magician's tricks have their roots in the heyday of the seance. The techniques can take years to master, but the aspiring magician can find many books, classes, and websites on the basics.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Language & Humanities editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Aug 13, 2014

@turquoise-- Well, of course. Legerdemain means "quickness of hand" right? So in order for someone to be so quick, they have to practice a lot.

I do believe that some people are born with this talent though. Just think about those young pickpockets that come up to tourists in other counters. I'm sure someone taught them what they know, but they're also very talented, there is no doubt about that. I was cheated of my money that way once.

By turquoise — On Aug 12, 2014

Sometimes amateur magicians come for small shows where I work. Some are so bad! They clearly haven't learned all of the rules of legerdemain or they haven't practiced enough. During some of the tricks, although I might miss the manipulation, I can guess how the trick was done. That's not how it's supposed to be. The magic trick needs to be done in such a way that no one can tell what happened and how it turned out that way. It needs to be amazing.

I understand that learning legerdemain is difficult and takes a long time though. If anyone here is aspiring to be a magician, please practice as much as possible. It's impossible to perfect legerdemain skills without practices. I'm sure the pros must have practiced each trick about a million times.

By SarahGen — On Aug 12, 2014

@Terrificli-- I think legerdemain is fairly common in card games. I know someone who knows these tricks and no one can beat him in a card game. Of course, these are just games among friends, there isn't money involved. But still, everyone is afraid to play with him because they know that he knows legerdemain and will manage to win somehow.

By Logicfest — On Aug 11, 2014

@Terrificli -- In casinos, I'd be willing to wager (pun intended) that such cheating is almost unheard of because of tight security, legal considerations and other things you've mentioned. In fact, I doubt you'll find these types of things going on in regulated, official poker games anywhere.

The problem is in those unregulated games where con artists employ such trickery to bilk unsuspecting folks of their cash. Will you find that in friendly poker games among friends? Let's hope not. But you will find such tricks on those low-level games where a lot of money can be won or lost.

I do believe the widespread use of such tricks to con people out of money is one of the primary reasons such games are illegal. The government isn't just being mean by cracking down on all but sanctioned, legal card games. It is legitimately out to protect the public from thieves.

By Terrificli — On Aug 10, 2014

Perhaps I am missing something, but how can these "Legerdemain" tricks be used in poker games? It seems customers would lynch casino dealers caught up in such foul play (not to mention violation of laws) and there are enough cameras and skilled observers to keep players honest.

That being the case, how much of a problem is this kind of cheating really?

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Language & Humanities editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.