shell game
noun Date: 1890 1. thimblerig played especially with three walnut shells 2. fraud; especially a swindle involving the substitution of something of little or no value for a valuable item

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • shell game — n AmE a dishonest method of doing something, in which you pretend to be doing one thing when you are really doing another ▪ Critics called the proposal a shell game …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • shell game — shell′ game n. 1) gam a swindling game in which a small object is supposedly hidden under one of three walnut shells or the like and bets are made 2) any swindle or fraud • Etymology: 1885–90, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • shell game — ☆ shell game n. 1. a game, typically a swindle, in which spectators are challenged to bet on the location of a small object ostensibly concealed under one of three cups or nutshells manipulated by sleight of hand 2. any scheme for tricking and… …   English World dictionary

  • Shell game — For other uses, see Shell game (disambiguation). An illegal shell game performed with bottle caps on Fulton Street in New York City The shell game (also known as Thimblerig, Three shells and a pea, the old army game) is portrayed as a gambling… …   Wikipedia

  • shell game — 1. a sleight of hand swindling game resembling thimblerig but employing walnut shells or the like instead of thimblelike cups. 2. any deceit, swindle, fraud, or the like. [1885 90, Amer.] * * * ▪ magic trick also called  Cups And Balls Trick, … …   Universalium

  • shell game — game of deception in which a small ball is hidden under one of three cup shaped objects which are then moved about while onlookers try and guess the ball s location, thimblerig; fraud …   English contemporary dictionary

  • shell game — Synonyms and related words: bingo, boiler room, bucket shop, bunco game, card games, chuck and toss, chuck farthing, chuck a luck, con game, confidence game, crack loo, crap game, crap shooting, craps, fan tan, goldbrick, hazard, horse racing,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • shell game — noun a) A game of skill which requires the bettor to guess under which of three small cups (or shells) a pea sized object has been placed after the party operating the game rapidly rearranges them, providing opportunity for sleight of hand… …   Wiktionary

  • shell game — noun a swindling sleight of hand game; victim guesses which of three things a pellet is under • Syn: ↑thimblerig • Hypernyms: ↑swindle, ↑cheat, ↑rig …   Useful english dictionary

  • shell game — noun N. Amer. 1》 another term for thimblerig. 2》 a deceptive and evasive action or ploy …   English new terms dictionary

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