Definition of shell game in English:

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shell game

Pronunciation: /ˈSHel ˌɡām/


North American
1A game involving sleight of hand, in which three inverted cups or nutshells are moved about, and contestants must spot which is the one with a pea or other object underneath.
Example sentences
  • One way they can achieve this is to have their friend Ron play a variation of the familiar shell game by hiding a pea under one of three walnut shells, numbered 1, 2 and 3.
  • Finding the company's real revenue-as opposed to reported revenue-was akin to locating the hidden bean in a shell game.
  • Usually, when you see him on television, you get the impression that just minutes before, he was fleecing the tourists, running a crooked shell game in the alley.
1.1A deceptive and evasive action or ploy, especially a political one: officials played a shell game by loading prisoners onto buses during population counts at the jail
More example sentences
  • They've played this shell game and this terrible game for years and again, I think we need to call them on it.
  • But we should also say this is a bit of a shell game.
  • His vision of national pride seems a shell game.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: shell game

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