Magic Terms

Abracadabra
A word stemming from the Hebrew Ha-b'rakah (ha-brachah) translated as "the blessing" or "the sacred name". Often used in the prestige of magic.

Act
The collected tricks and routines that you present at a single seating or performance.

Acquitment
The secret transfer of a concealed object from hand to hand to enable both hands to be shown apparently empty.

Angles
The magician should always be aware of what the audience can see when he is performing. Some tricks can only be viewed from certain positions. When performing close-up, these angles of visibility become especially important.

Back Palm
A sleight that allows the hand to be shown empty, at the same time concealing something behind the fingers.

Billet
A small piece of paper, often folded, upon which a message has been written, usually for a mind-reading effect.

Black Art
A principle that states that anything painted black cannot be seen when placed against a black background.

Blind
Shuffling, riffling, cutting or culling of cards designed to appear regular, but in reality retaining, or arranging, some preconceived order.

Book Test
Any mental effect using a book or several books in which the mentalist predicts or divines a word or words selected by a spectator.

Bottom of the Deck
When the cards are held face-down in the hand, the bottom of the deck will be the lowermost card. Sometimes magicians call this the face of the deck.

Break
A break is a secret gap held between cards in the deck, usually by a finger. It's used when controlling the whereabouts of a certain card, usually one chosen by the spectator.

Card Conjurer
An illusionist that specializes in card performance and manipulation through specialized or regular decks of cards. (Card Conjuror - same but different spelling.)

Cardician
A magician specializing in card tricks and manipulations. The term was coined by Mr. Ed Marlo in his book, The Cardician.

Charlier Cut
A one handed method to cut cards.

Classic Palm
Used to conceal a small object, most commonly a coin, in the hand by secretly holding it between the muscles at the base of the thumb and the lower edge of the hand.

Clean
A trick finish clean if everything (including the hands) can be examined at the end.

Close-Up Magic
Tricks designed to be performed with the magician close to the audience, especially by sleight of hand.

Close-Up Magician
A magician who performs close-up magic.

Coin Vanish
A coin sleight that causes a coin to vanish from a location, usually the hand.

Continuity Gag
A joke that is repeated several times during an act. A trick that appears to go wrong each time the magician tries it is one type of continuity gag.

Control
Magicians talk of controlling a spectator's selected card. It means that although they appear to lose it in the deck, they know exactly where it is and can often bring it to the top with a single cut. Key cards and Breaks are used to affect Controls.

Court card
A jack, queen, or king of any suit.

Crimp
A bend made in the corner of a card so that it can be easily located visually or by touch and then Controlled. The bent corner makes it easy to cut at the crimped card. Magicians talk about putting a crimp in a card and also refer to the bent card itself as a crimp.

Deal
To take the cards, one at a time from the top of the deck and place them on the table. In a gambling routine the cards would be dealt around the table, cards going to each player's hand in a clockwise rotation.

Dealing Grip
This is the grip that most people use when holding a deck of cards ready to deal for a card game. The deck is face-down in the hand. The fingers are on the long side of the deck and the thumb lies across the top of the deck. Occasionally the forefinger is on the front edge of the deck. Card cheats refer to this as the Mechanic's Grip, a mechanic being a slang term for a card cheat.

Deck
Another name for a pack of cards. Magicians usually use the term deck when talking card tricks. It's an American term that's become widespread among magicians worldwide who specialize in card magic.

Disappearance
A magic trick where an object or person vanishes.

Ditch
To get rid of something without being seen. Often, it's something you've gimmicked and don't want the audience to see.

Double Backed Card
A playing card that has no face. Both sides of the card show the back design.

Double Faced Card
A card that has no back. Both sides of the card show a face. It could show the same card on each side, or different cards.

Double Lift
This is a Sleight in which two cards are lifted as though they are one and turned over on top of the deck. It can be used to change one card into another and is used several times in the Ambitious Card Routine.

Effect
The intended and perceived outcome of a magic trick or illusion. What the spectator thinks he or she sees happening.

Elmsley Count
A false counting method to openly count four cards as four, but conceal one of the four cards.

Equivoque
A method of forcing a specific object on a spectator through a seemingly fair selection process.

Escape
A branch of magic where the performer appears to free him or herself from ropes, handcuffs, boxes and other constraints.

Exposure
Revealing the secret method to a magic effect; something good magicians NEVER do.

False Count
A count of cards or other objects which appears genuine but where the number of objects is more or less than it seems to be.

False Cut
An apparently fair cut of a pack of cards that does not disturb the order of the pack.

False Shuffle
A shuffle that controls the position of some or all of the cards in the deck. You might have a Key Card on the bottom of the deck. A false shuffle apparently mixes the cards up, but in fact, the Key Card, a group of cards, or the entire order of the deck remains.

Fan
Spreading the cards to form a neat fan shape. To make this move easier, magicians often use fanning powder.

Fanning Powder
Powder, usually French chalk, applied to cards to make them slippery and therefore easier to fan.

Finger Palm
This refers to when a coin or other small object is hidden in the curl of the fingers.

Finale
The last part of a trick or show. A magician usually tries to make this the best part.

Flash Paper
A chemically treated paper that creates a brilliant flash when ignited.

Flourish
A deliberately visual and fancy move, usually with a deck of cards or coins.

Force
Causing a spectator to choose a certain card when they think they have a random choice of their own will.

Foulard
A very large scarf or silk.

French Drop
This is a Sleight used to make a coin vanish. The coin is held at the fingertips of one hand and then is apparently taken away by the other. In fact, it's retained in the original hand where it's then usually Palmed our of sight of the spectator.

Gaffed Card
A specialized gimmicked card made for increasing the level of the prestige in a card routine or trick.

Gaffed Deck
A specialized deck of cards that have been made to look ordinary, though they are secretly prepared for a special trick used by the Card Conjurer.

Gimmick
An object that appears natural but has been altered to create a magical effect. Can also be an object that’s never seen by the audience that creates the magical effect.

Gospel Magic
A branch of magic that uses magic effects to present and reinforce Christian concepts.

Illusion
Any magical effect that to the spectator looks impossible, but is accomplished through real-world means. Illusion is the perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature.

Illusionist
A performer who presents illusions. A person who produces illusory effects, as one (an artist) whose work is marked by illusionism and sleight-of-hand.

Impromptu Magic
Tricks or effects that can be done without any special advance preparation.

Injog
When a card protrudes out of the pack towards the performer, which is often done during an Overhand Shuffle.

Load
The object or objects to be produced out of the hand, or out of an apparatus.

Legerdemain
Sleight of hand.

Levitation
The ability to float oneself, another person or an object, with no apparent means of support, as if the rules of gravity do not apply.

Magic
The art of producing illusions by sleight of hand.

Magician
One skilled in magic; especially one who performs tricks of illusion and sleight of hand.

Mate
A mate of a card is one of the same value or color, but different suit.

Mentalism
Mentalism is a field of magic that involves feats of mind-reading and predictions and more. It is a performing art in which the practitioner uses his five senses to create the illusion of a sixth. Performers may claim to be demonstrating supernatural abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and telekinesis.

Misdirection
Making an audience look elsewhere while you perform a secret move.

One Ahead
A principle in which the performer is at least one step ahead of the audience.

Packet
A small quantity of playing cards.

Palming
Secretly hiding an object in your hand while making the audience believe your hand is empty.

Patter
Your running commentary as you perform magic. For some tricks, the patter may be a story. With others, it may be jokes.

Parlor Magic
Magic that can be performed effectively in a small room.

Pip
The hearts, spades, clubs and diamond pictures on any given card in the deck.

Prediction
Attempting, usually successfully, the outcome of a trick such as naming a card the spectator chooses before he chooses it.

Prestidigitation
A phrase coined by French magician Jules deRovere in 1815 which means "performed with quick fingers".

Production
The appearance of an object or person, as if by magic.

Revelation
The "miracle" or feeling of amazement at the outcome of a trick.

Riffle
To pull the ends of the card and then immediately let them go in order to make a clicking noise, or demonstrate a particular card or cards.

Routine
The order of events that make up a trick or a series of tricks that follow one another in an act.

Self-Working Trick
A trick that works by itself that requires little technical skill or effort on behalf of the performer.

Shuffle
The mixing of a deck of cards.

Sleeving
Using the sleeves or a jacket or shirt to conceal or vanish a coin or other small object.

Sleight of Hand
A branch of magic that mainly depends on skill and relies less on gimmicked objects to create magical effects. A cleverly executed trick or deception. A conjuring trick requiring manual dexterity. The skill and dexterity in conjuring tricks.

Spectator
A single member of the audience, one who looks and watches.

Stage Magic
Magic acts and routines performed on stage before a live audience. Stage Magic has been made popular by performers such as David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Max Maven (Phil Goldstien), Le Grand David and his Spectacular Magic Company, Siegfried & Roy and Mark Wilson.

Stand-Up Magic
A branch of magic where the magician stands in front of a crowd and performs magic.

Steal
Taking something from where the audience thinks it is without the audience knowing.

Street Magic
The act of performing magic tricks on the street in an impromptu environment. Street Magic has been made popular by magicians such as David Blaine, Criss Angel, and Brad Christensen.

Stock
Any number of cards, which may or may not be in an arranged sequence, which have been set in some particular place in the pack, usually the top or bottom.

Substitution
To replace something the audience thinks they understand with something slightly different.

Switch
Secretly exchange one card or coin for another.

The Essential Three Acts in Magic and Conjuring
The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige: The Pledge: wherein a magician shows you something ordinary, but it probably isn't. The Turn: where the magician makes the ordinary object do something extraordinary. The Prestige: where you see something shocking you've never seen before.

The Olram Subtlety
A method for displaying the fronts and backs of all cards in a packet, when in fact only half of the cards are fairly displayed. Invented by Ed Marlo.

Transformation
An effect in magic in which an object changes into an entirely different item.

Vanish
A disappearance or the act of making something or someone disappear.

XCM
Extreme Card Manipulation, or Xtreme Card Manipulation. Specialized high-level flourishing with a deck of cards.


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