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List of Conjuring Terms


The following is a list of terms used by magicians, sorted alphabetically.


Angles - The lines of vison of people sitting at certain position in the audience which enable a secret to be spotted. Usually extreme left or right or behind. If a trick is "angly" it can only be done with limited audience viewpoints. (e.g. The Balducci levitation which can only be viewed a 45 degrees view between side and behind angles.)

Bikes - USPCC Bicycle pattern cards commonly used by card magicians.

Black Art - Magician's term for an optical principle and the tricks accomplished by it. The principle is that an object that is the color black is invisible against anything else that is also black.

Burn - Staring at the magician's hands without averting the gaze, no matter what misdirection is thrown at him.

Copper and Silver (C/S) - An effect using two coins of contrasting metals which change place, as in Scotch and Soda.

Centre tear - Special way of tearing up paper used in mentalism so that the centre piece, which contains the message, is retained by the magician.

Chop cup - Cup with secret magnet used with a magnetic ball which can be made to vanish or appear at will using the magnet.

Cold (deck) - Switching in a stacked deck. (see Stacked deck)

Confederate (also Stooge, Shill, Plant) - Audience member who is actually planted as part of the act to act in a cooperative manner.

Change - Changing one card (or object) for another.

Charlier Cut - One handed flourish cut or pass.

Clean - A hand which is empty or the condition achieved at the end of an effect where the magician has no supposedly vanished objects or gimmicked items in her hands. (see Dirty)

Crimp - A bend in a card or cards which is used to locate them later. A gamblers move which can be used in magic, there are many different types.

Deal - To take cards off the top of the deck.
Deal Bottoms (take the bottom card looking like the top)
Deal Middles (take a middle card looking like the top)
Deal Seconds (take the second card looking like the top)

Dirty - A hand which is contains an object the audience should not know about or the condition at some point where the magician has "vanished" objects or gimmicked items hidden in her hands. (see Clean)

Double lift (DL) - Lifting two cards as one.

Egg bag - Utility bag often made of black velvet with extra compartment which can be turned inside out to vanish an object (egg) or change one object for another.

Effect - Magician's name for how a magic creation is percieved by a spectator.

Elmsley Count (also Ghost Count) - A false count (often done with 4 cards) where the surface of a card is hidden while the cards are passed from one hand to another. Invented by Alex Elmsley.

False transfer - An object appears to be taken into one hand while actually being retained in the other. (see Pass)

False shuffle/False cut - The deck is apparently mixed but in reality, the original order is retained.

Faro - A skillful shuffle similar to the riffle where the cards mesh perfectly. Can be done as an in or out faro depending on the position of the top card.

Flash - To accidentally expose an object or part of an object momentarily during a secret move.

Flourish - A showy move which displays handling skills.

French drop (also Tourniquet) - A take false transfer with a coin or small object.

Force - Where a card or other object is made to be selected by the spectator even though there appears to a free choice.
Classic force - Making a spectator choose a card by fanning the cards and timing the force card to land under their fingers.

Glimpse - To get a secret view of a card or object. (e.g. To glimpse at the bottom card or sight the top one while looking through the pack to find another card. The top card may also be sighted by lifting slightly with the left thumb while misdirecting in some other way.)

Glide - Secretly pulling back the bottom card so the second from bottom can be dealt.

Gimmick/Gaff - Secret part or object used to make the trick work.

Invisible thread (IT) - Thin thread that cannot be seen; used to levitate objects.

Impromptu - A trick that can be performed at a moment's notice, usually with everyday objects and little or no preparation.

Key/Key card - Known card used to locate another. (see Locator)

Lapping - Dropping an object into one's lap to vanish it (done while seated).

Load - To secretly put an object into a location (e.g. to place a ball under a cup or a rabbit into a hat)

Loaded - A die which comes up the same number or an object which secretly contains another object ready for production.

Locator - Similar to a key card; a card which can be found in some way. It may be long, short, thick, rough, smooth, crimped, daubed, marked, reversed, or simply known.

M5 - Product name for Neodymium magnet used for PK effects, balances, stopping watches, and vanishes.

Magic Dust (also Woofle dust, Fairy dust, etc.) - Invisible substance stored in magician's pocket that supposedly makes tricks work. Excuse for going to a pocket to get rid of a vanished item. (see Misdirection)

Magician's choice where an object is forced on a spectator by deciding if he takes or discards the objects selected. (see Force)

Magician's wax - Wax used to stick things together temporarily.

Manipulator - A magician with a showy sleight of hand act, often set to music, who produces cards/coins etc or multiplies balls in the air.

Mark - Subject for a con game.

Mechanic - An operator who is very skilled at sleight of hand (usually with cards).

Mechanic's grip - A way of holding the pack in the left hand ready for dealing. The fore finger is on the front of the deck to help square the pack and control the cards. A lay person will hold the deck with the fingers all underneath or down the side.

Misdirection - Psychological techniques for controlling attention.

Monte - Famous con game where three cards are thrown down and the mark has to follow a chosen card. Due to sleight of hand, he never wins.

One Ahead - Principle often used in mentalism where the magician uses previously obtained information to stay one step ahead of the audience to supposedly make accurate predictions/guesses.

Out - An alternative ending to an effect.

Packet trick - A card magic effect involving a small quantity of cards, some of which are often gimmicked.

Palming/Palm - To secretly hold an object in the hand so that the spectator does not notice it is there.
Back Palm - Held on back of the hand, especially a playing card.
Finger Palm - Held in the fingers.
Classic Palm - Held in centre of the hand.
Thumb Palm - Held in the crotch of the thumb.

Pass - Secret move to transpose the halves of a pack. (e.g. to bring a card to the top of the pack)

Patter - Vulgar term for the script used in the performance of an effect.

Peek - Similar to a glimpse. To obtain a secret look at a card or object.

Profonde/Pochettes - Large pockets in tail coats which can be used for vanishes/productions etc. Not a popular method today due to fashion trends.

Pinch - A non-specific term for holding something between the fingers.

PK - Psychokinesis. Moving things using supposed supernatural powers.

Pull - Device of elastic which pulls object up sleeve or under jacket as in Vanishing bird cage.

Pull through shuffle - Concluding move to a riffle shuffle where the two halfs are pulled through each other and not mixed at all.

Raven - Product name for a magnetic pull.

Readers/paper - Marked cards which can be read from their backs.

Retention of vision - After-image on the retina.

Riffle - To let cards come out of the hand creating a noise. Also a riffle shuffle. (see Shuffle)

Rough - Cards which have been treated with substance to increase surface friction making it easier to keep cards aligned to each other.

Routine - A sequence of effects.

Run - Taking the cards off singly during an overhand shuffle which can be used to stack the deck.

Servante - Secret shelf or compartment behind magician's table.

Silk - A silk handkerchief.

Shell - A hollowed out coin or ball which fits over the real object allowing vanish and reproductions.

Shell game - Con game with walnut shells and a pea where the mark has to guess the shell with the pea in. Due to sleight of hand he never wins. (see Monte)

Shuffle - To randomize a deck of playing cards.
Overhand shuffle - A shuffle where the cards are dropped from one hand into the other in small random groups.
Riffle shuffle (also Dovetail shuffle) - The most common shuffling technique in which half of the deck is held in each hand with the thumbs inward, then cards are released by the thumbs so that they fall to the table intertwined.
Table shuffle - A variation of the riffle shuffle. It is accomplished by placing the halves flat on the table with their rear corners touching, then lifting the back edges with the thumbs while pushing the halves together. Often used by dealers in casinos.

Sleeving - Dropping an object up a sleeve to vanish it.

Sleight - A secret move or technique.

Slicks - A highly polished card or cards which are more slippery. Useful for flourishes. (see Rough)

Slide - A tube to get an object to an impossible location. (e.g. To load a marked coin into ball of wool or object inside nested boxes.)

Slip - To retain top or bottom cards or both during an overhand shuffle.

Sphinx principle - Two mirrors at 90 degrees and with their apex/join facing the audience can be used to reflect the side curtains/walls which are the same pattern as the back curtains/walls enabling an object to be hidden behind the mirrors. First used in the Sphinx illusion

Sponge - A sponge ball.

Stacked Deck(stack)- A prearranged deck or part of the deck of cards. Or to rearrange while overhand shuffling

Steal - A sleight used to obtain an object secretly. (e.g. Stealing a ball from under a cup or stealing a card from the pack)

Stodart egg - Hollow egg used in vanish or production of a silk.

Stripper deck - cards are wider at one end, enabling a reversed card to be located. Also known as Biseauté cards.

Sucker effect - A trick where the spectator is lead to believe he has worked it out, only to be proved very wrong.

Svengali deck - Gimmicked deck where every other card is the same and also short. Can be used for forcing and many other effects.

Swami gimmick - Small writing device used in mentalism that is hidden under the nail used to "predict" what a spectator says by writing it secretly after it has been said.

Switch - To change one object for another.

Talking - The inadvertent noises made by the props which can give away the trick.

Topit - Jacket with secret receptacle to vanish things. Often a large pocket sewn into lining.

Torn and Restored (T&R) - The magician rips something up into many pieces (e.g. playing card, paper, etc.) and then "restores" it. The method lies in switching in a new undamaged item.

Thumb tip - Small tube to manipulate small or compressible objects. Can be used for small liquid/powder (e.g. salt) vanishes and appearances.

Zombie gimmick - A secret rod to make an object float, usually under cover of a cloth as in Zombie ball.


Hay, Henry. Cyclopedia of Magic. 1949.
ISBN 0486218082

Hoffman, Louis
. Modern Magic. 1876 (Orig)
ISBN 0486236234

Wilson, Mark. Complete Course in Magic. 1975.
ISBN 0762414553


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