Glossary of Magic Terms

A comprehensive glossary of magic and magician terms.

Featured Magician Terms

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Full Magician Glossary

A famous card trick in which the spectator's selected card seems to rise to the top of the deck. Also called ACR.

The audience member's angle of vision determines whether or not he or she can see the secret.

If a trick is "angly," it can only be done with limited audience viewpoints.

The side of a card that does not reveal its value. Often featuring a trademarked design or image.

Black on black can become invisible to the eye. Our eyes are limited to the depth of shadows and black objects merged with black backgrounds can become imperceptible to the eye. Under the right conditions and dark surroundings, an object can instantly appear or disappear in the eyes of an observer.

The use of a stage background that is black velvet, using assistants and props hidden by matching black covering, and careful lighting can help keep the secret of magic performance a mystery to the audience.

The book test is a classic magic trick used by mentalists to demonstrate telepathy-like effects.

The card whose face can be seen when the deck is assembled.

A small gap is made at the edge of a pack of cards, and then it is held in place by the tip of a finger.

A subject's fixation on the magician's hand movements regardless of misdirection.

A magician who only performs card magic

A way of tearing up paper billets which is used in mentalism

A card force performed by fanning the cards and timing the forced card to land under the subjects fingers.

To palm with the centre of the hand.

An expression meaning that you’re left with nothing to hide from the audience. Any objects or cards can be completely examined without anything to hide.

A member of an audience helps the magician by acting cooperatively to accomplish the trick.

A gesture done to emphasize a wrong conception and strengthen the audience’s belief in it.

A court card is a king, queen, or jack of a suit; it is also called a face card.

A bend secretly put in a playing card designed to be used in magic tricks. A crimp can be used to determine the position of a card or cards.

The pack is divided in half, and the cut is completed when the other half is placed on top of the original top half.

to dispose or get rid of something secretly.

A playing card with the back of a deck printed on both sides, so that neither side has a value printed on it.

A double lift is a sleight in which two cards are lifted over as one.

The way a spectator perceives a magic trick

A false count (often done with four cards) in which the back or face of a card is hidden while displaying to the spectator.

Created by Alex Elmsley

The process of forcing a specific object on a spectator through a seemingly random selection process.

A court card is a king, queen, or jack of a suit; it is also called a face card.

The side of a card showing its value and suit

A false shuffle or cut is a technique that appears to mix the deck but does not do so, usually to allow the magician to retain control of the cards in a particular order or position.

A sleight of hand technique in which an object appears to be taken into one hand while actually being retained in the other.

To conceal a card, coin or small object in the closed fingers of your hand.

To expose a part of an object unintentionally during a secret move or sleight-of-hand technique.

A force is a technique used to make a spectator select a card, or other object, that you have predetermined.

Gaff is a gimmick or tool designed to look like something real while working in secret for some other function.

Any prop, artifact, or component that has been secretly prepared in advance and used as a means to make a trick work. The audience is unaware of the existence of this preparatory device.

A view of a card or object that is not apparent to other observers.

A magic trick that can be performed at a moment’s notice, using everyday objects and little or no preparation.

A card used to locate another.

Lapping is a sleight of hand technique involving dropping an object into one's lap to vanish it while seated.

The art of secretly putting an object in a location so that it can be produced or "revealed" at a future moment.

A card that can be found in some way. It may be long, short, thick, rough, smooth, crimped, daubed, marked, reversed, or simply known by the magician.

A card or other object is forced unto the spectator, despite the appearance of a free choice.

A deck of cards with secret markings on the backs of the cards to identify their value.

A performer who appears to demonstrate extraordinary mental powers, such as mind-reading.

The act of distracting a person's attention from something that would reveal the secret. Psychological techniques for controlling attention.

The principle in magic that uses previously obtained information to assist in making accurate predictions

A shuffling technique where cards are dropped from one hand into the other in small random groups.

A deck of cards.

A small group of cards held together in alignment

To hold an object secretly in the hand.

Patter is the dialogue that performers use when performing magic tricks. Some magicians prefer a serious style of patter, while others use a light-hearted sarcastic or humorous tone so they can catch the audience off guard.

A view of a card or object that is not apparent to other observers.

A picture card is a king, queen, or jack of a suit; it is also called a face card.

A member of an audience helps the magician by acting cooperatively to accomplish the trick.

The sudden appearance of something, as if by magic.

The physical properties needed to perform a magic trick, such as cards, coins, or handcuffs.

A device of elastic which is used to pull something else up a sleeve or under a jacket.

Rough cards are treated with a substance that provides more surface friction, making it easier for the cards to stay aligned.

Self-working tricks are magic that anyone can perform. Self-workers require little practise or training, but they do allow you to perform magic at any time, in any place. However, the fact that a trick requires little to no skill does not mean you should not practice self-working magic; practicing your magic is essential for polish and performance.

A key card that is slightly shorter in length than other cards in a deck.

The method of selling, in an entertaining fashion, your own material, mannerisms and personality. An innate talent for some performers but a skill that can be developed by anyone.

The act of mixing up cards or any other objects to form a random order.

A handkerchief

A magician drops an object into a sleeve to make it vanish.

A secret move or technique.

An arrangement where all the cards of the deck are aligned at their four corners.

A sleight that is used to obtain an object secretly.

A term used to describe the exchange of one object for another, or the act of changing one thing for another completely unrelated thing.

A sleight-of-hand move similar to the palm, in which a coin or small object is concealed by being placed in the hand and then apparently transferred to another hand.

A type of magic trick that creates the illusion of two different objects switching places faster than is physically possible.