Glossary of Magic Terms

Abracadabra: A magic word used to indicate to the audience that something amazing is about to happen. Other magic words and phrases include: hocus pocus, alakazam, sim sala bim, shazam, presto, great Caesar's ghost, dy-no-mite, d'oh, eat my shorts, and what you talkin' 'bout Willis.

Angles: The corners of magic equipment. Cabinet with pointy corners are said to have "good angles," but, conversely, cards with pointy corners have "bad angles."

Black art: Magic that relies on selling one's soul to the Prince of Darkness instead of sleight of hand.

Burn: Being so mad that you caught a magician doing something fishy that you set his hands on fire.

Cardician: A magician who is also a cardiologist.

Centre tear: Just tearing the middle of a piece of paper and not the edges so you leave sort of a squared paper doughnut behind.

Charlier cut: A fancy way to shuffle cards taught by the magician's Uncle Charley.

Clean: A magician who is pure of spirit and body (rare).

Close-up magic: Magic that's not very interesting unless you can actually see it.

Cold deck: A deck of cards that has been kept in the refrigerator to preserve crispness.

Confederate: Someone who worked for a magician in the southern United States during the Civil War.

Conjurer: Someone who uses magic as an excuse to get out of jury duty.

Corporate magic: Magic performed at trade shows and other such venues for the purpose of interesting potential customers in a product. For example, "I see that from this tarot deck you freely selected the death card, which reminds me -- are you fully insured?"

Crimp: A card man with a bad leg.

Deal: Hand out cards from the top of the deck.

Deal seconds: Hand out two cards from the top of the deck.

Deal middles: Handing out cards using the performer's stomach as a table.

Deal bottoms: (You don't want to know.)

Dirty: When a magician tries to cover up the fact that a method has been exposed by making extremely off-color jokes.

Disappearance: When a hired magician just doesn't show up.

Distraction: See Misdirection.

Ditch: Where a magician gets thrown if he's caught second dealing during a legitimate poker game.

Double lift: A British building with two elevators.

Dovetail shuffle : When cards are shuffled by trained birds.

Effect: Whatever it was that the magician was attempting to do.

Egg bag: The bag in which a magician's lunch is carried.

Elmsley count: A method of determining how many Elmsleys are in a room.

Escape: Using skill and trickery to get out of something that you shouldn't have been in in the first place (straight jacket, flaming rope, spiked death trap, expensive restaurant, etc.).

Fakir: A magician who specializes in fire walking, lying on a bed of nails, hammering spikes into his nose, etc., because other kinds of magic require too much practice.

False shuffle: Pretending to have trouble walking so the audience will sympathyze with the magician.

False transfer: Using slight of hand to switch busses without paying extra.

Faro: A city in North Dakota. Magicians moving toward Faro are said to be "doing an in Faro," while magicians moving away from the fabled city are "doing an out Faro."

Flash: An in-trick clothing malfunction.

Flourish: Doing something fancy to extend the length of a trick because you are being paid by the hour.

Force: Making a spectator do something they do not intend to do, such as believe that these are not the droids they are looking for.

French drop: A feat of daring in which the magician jumps off the Eiffel Tower.

Gimmick: Whatever it is that a magician does to stand out from other magicians. For example, a magician might be known for working with white tigers, performing feats of endurance, constructing large-scale illusions, having one red fingernail, or getting abusive when restaurant patrons don't tip.

Glide: To walk without moving the feet.

Glimpse: To slyly steal a look at an attractive spectator during a performance.

Gospel magic: Magic intended to teach a moral lesson (e.g., "everyone who enjoys watching magicians is going to hell").

Hat Production: Making things appear out of a hat. Similarly, bag production, cabinet production, and rabbit production.

Illusion: Any large-scale feat of magic accompanied by flashing lights, special effects, a dramatic soundtrack, and chorography.

Illusionist: The guy who is actually trying to get some work done amidst the lights, special effects, music, and dancing.

International Brotherhood of Magicians: A world-wide cabal of powerful wizards that is the true power behind all human affairs.

Juggler: The big vein on the side of your neck.

Key card: A playing card slipped between a door and door jamb for purposes of bypassing a spring lock.

Lapping: Drinking without using the hands.

Legerdemain: The main book in which a magician keeps financial records.

Levitation: When a magician gets a rise out of someone.

Load: Telling an untruth to enhance a performance. E.g., "Did you hear what he said about being banned from ten casinos? What a load."

Loaded: Performing while drunk.

Magic dust: Expensive dust used by some magicians to get "extra loaded."

Magician's choice: Doing what the magician wants (for once).

Manipulator: A magician who uses teasing or peer pressure to get a spectator to come on stage when they don't want to.

Mechanic: A magician who also fixes cars to make ends meet.

Mechanic's grip: The firm handshake of a mechanic.

Misdirection: See Distraction.

Nail writer: Device used to write crib notes on fingernails.

One Ahead: When a magician is thinking about what he'll be doing after the show instead of concentrating on his performance.

Out: When a spectator screws up a trick so the angry magician has to throw him off stage.

Overhand shuffle: A fake shuffle whereby the magician splits the deck in two, holds one half in each hand, and then waves the hands over each other in a "hand jive" fashion.

Packet trick: A magic trick that can be kept in a teeny, tiny envelope (linking washers, vanishing ball Bering, torn and restored postage stamp, etc.)

Palming: Shaking hands.

Palming a card: Shaking hands with a card.

Patter: Over-dramatic descriptions, dated language, and bad jokes found in cheap magic trick instructions.

Peek: A glimpse at a spectator wearing revealing clothing.

PK: Psychokinesis -- the art of getting crazy people to move.

Plant: Vegitation secretly put on the stage by the magician to give the audience the feeling that they might be outside.

Prestidigitation: Using an ink pad to leave your fingerprints for the police after being arrested for street performing without a license.

Profonde: Some kind of French thing, probably.

Pull: Method for removing a rabbit from a hat.

Readers: Cards that have codes in the corner (e.g., "K" for a "king") of the card face so that they can be identified by anyone who can read.

Restaurant work: Doing magic for food.

Retention of vision: Remembering the point of a performance.

Riffle shuffle: A false shuffle in which the halves of a deck are split and then restored to their previous order while the magician makes "motorboat" noises with his mouth.

Rough: How a magician looks after a performance in front of a bad audience. (This can happen even if the performer is smooth.)

Routine: The same old tricks the magician always does.

Self-working trick: A trick that a magician can do alone.

Servante: The guy who cleans up after a magician.

Shuffle: To randomize a deck of playing cards.

Silk: A handkerchief you wouldn't want to blow your nose on.

Slide: A tube or chute to get quickly from one location to another (such as from the top of a ladder to the playground sand).

Sleight of hand: Having small hands.

Slip: What a magician may wear to protect her modesty from bright stage lights.

Spirit cabinet: Where a magician keeps the booze.

Stack: The top half of an attractive female magician.

Stand-up magic: A magician that will stick by you to the bitter end (e.g., "That magician -- he's a stand-up guy"):

Steal: Taking something (such as a watch) from a spectator to help make up for bad ticket sales.

Stodart egg: A fake egg used by magicians too cheap to buy a new egg for each performance.

Street magic: Magic performed by a magician who can't fill a theater and/or is homeless.

Stripper deck: Cards with nudie pictures on them.

Substitution: A magician who performs when the magician who was supposed to be performing is out sick.

Sucker effect: A trick involving a lollypop.

Svengali deck: A deck of cards that can use its hypnotic powers to control you mind.

Switch: Subject of the old-fashioned phrase, "Spare the wand, spoil the magician."

Table shuffle: In a stage show, the quick moving of spectators' tables so that they no longer know where they are sitting.

Talking: Routine in which the cards of a ventriloquist/magican tell the audience how tricks are done.

Thumb tip: The very end of a magician's thumb.

Topit: A cockney top hat.

Trick: One paid encounter with a "John."

Walkaround: A magician who walks around hoping to find someone with nothing to do but watch a card trick.

XCM: Extreme card manipulation (alternatively, an ex-card magician or xylophone concert manager).

Zombie gimmick: A secret rod used to deliver a powerful electric charge that can bring the dead back to life.

Got a magic-related word that you'd like to see defined in the Mallusionist glossary? Send it to us.End of story

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Magic is not real. Reality is not magic.

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