*Sleight of Hand

The term “slight of hand” got about 730,000 hits in a recent Google search. That’s a shame because the expression is “sleight of hand.”

Actually, it’s not as big a shame as it may seem. A lot of those “slight of hand” hits were pointing out the error of spelling it “slight.” But many other were errors: “Best slight of hand you’ll ever see,” boasts one YouTube video.

A particularly notable slighting of "sleight" appeared in a link to a Daily Mail headline, “Magician used slight of hand skills to steal money while working at the cheese counter at Harrods.” What’s interesting about this one is that, when you click the link, you see that the headline was changed to say that the magician “used talent to take money with one hand and hide it with the other.”

Neither “slight” nor “slight” comes up anywhere in the story. So the editors caught the error after the article was posted and, in fixing it, decided to steer clear of the whole mess.

Don’t make this mistake. Trickery involving sneaking movements is “sleight of hand.”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, sleight is a noun meaning deceitful craftiness, stratagem, dexterity or skill. Of course, you never hear it used that way. The only time it comes up is in the term “sleight of hand,” which is probably why the dictionary has a listing for the whole term.

sleight of hand


a: a cleverly executed trick or deception

b: a conjuring trick requiring manual dexterity


a: skill and dexterity in conjuring tricks

b: adroitness in deception

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