Definition of trick in English:

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Pronunciation: /trɪk/


1A cunning act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone: he’s a double-dealer capable of any mean trick
More example sentences
  • Irham said that candidates were found to have used various tricks to deceive the poll commission in their registration documents.
  • Its surprisingly short length is a cunning trick, since this tantalizing opening leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat wanting to hear a few more snippets.
  • They just could not understand how anyone would be deceived by the trick.
stratagem, ploy, ruse, scheme, device, move, manoeuvre, contrivance, machination, expedient, artifice, wile, dodge;
deceit, deception, trickery, subterfuge, chicanery, sharp practice;
swindle, hoax, fraud, confidence trick
informal con, con trick, set-up, game, scam, sting, gyp, flimflam
British informal wheeze
North American informal bunco, grift
Australian informal lurk, rort
South African informal schlenter
British informal, dated flanker
archaic shift, fetch, rig
1.1A mischievous practical joke: she thought Elaine was playing some trick on her
More example sentences
  • He flits and flies all over the camp, scampers and gambols, plays little mischievous tricks on everyone.
  • It might be love if only they can stop playing nasty practical tricks on each other.
  • In the majority of Western cultures, tricks and jokes are played on the bride and groom separately at small parties held prior to the big day.
practical joke, joke, prank, jape, stunt, antic, caper
informal leg-pull, spoof, put-on
British informal cod
North American informal dido
Australian informal goak
archaic cutup, quiz
Scottish archaic cantrip
1.2An illusion: I thought I saw a flicker of emotion, but it was probably a trick of the light
More example sentences
  • But then again it could just be a trick of the light!
  • And then Elena saw the change in him, so fast, so dramatic, that she wondered if she had really witnessed it or if it had been a trick of the light.
  • Is this contentment, or just a trick of the light?
illusion, optical illusion, deception, figment of the imagination;
2A skilful act performed for entertainment or amusement: he did conjuring tricks for his daughters
More example sentences
  • I would not be allowed to watch him and Aiken perform little magic tricks for my amusement.
  • A Western team filmed him with infrared cameras and, of course, were able to show that he was performing a conjuring trick.
  • They introduced him to the village; he played his gramophone, performed conjuring tricks, put on puppet shows, and talked about justice for the peasants.
feat, stunt;
(tricks) sleight of hand, legerdemain, prestidigitation;
2.1A clever or particular way of doing something: the trick is to put one ski forward and kneel
More example sentences
  • With a few cunning camera tricks and makeup, he literally becomes a paralyzed man, both of body and of heart.
  • There is a very cunning trick to the site, but it took me some time to spot what it was.
  • First, I note that many readers thought that some intended camera trick had brought about these strange smears and trails.
technique, knack, art, skill;
informal know-how
3A peculiar or characteristic habit or mannerism: she had a trick of clipping off certain words and phrases
More example sentences
  • Burke provided all manner of tricks and class and cutting edge wherever he roamed but his excellent work was never capitalised upon.
  • Charlie senior, famed for his red nose and bowler hat, was known all over the world for his tricks, humour and ability to play countless musical instruments.
  • Is it that people are too much alike and only have so many tricks and foibles?
mannerism, habit, practice, quirk, idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, foible, eccentricity, way, characteristic, trait
4(In bridge, whist, and similar card games) a sequence of cards forming a single round of play. One card is laid down by each player, the highest card being the winner.
Example sentences
  • Next, the players play to tricks, with the winner of each trick replacing their card with their choice of one of two exposed cards and the loser receiving the other card.
  • When all the cards have been played each player counts the value of the cards in their tricks.
  • If all players discard their final card on the same trick, no points are awarded.
5 informal A prostitute’s client.
Example sentences
  • He was romancing his long-term girlfriend when he was arrested for getting oral sex from the $60-a-'trick' prostitute.
  • Accept and publish any bad trick reports you get even if it might seem like a less serious incident.
  • Sheila started turning tricks four years ago when she was 16.
6A sailor’s turn at the helm, usually lasting for two or four hours.
Example sentences
  • Indeed, one or two tricks up the mast were carried out by the senior ERA.
  • Steelkilt calculated his time, and found that his next trick at the helm would come round at two o'clock.


[with object]
1Cunningly deceive or outwit: many people have been tricked by villains with false identity cards
More example sentences
  • They were sly and quick with words and a smile, cunningly tricking their foes.
  • Presumably the six contestants could argue that they were tricked or deceived though, couldn't they?
  • One must not deceive or trick others in buying or selling.
deceive, delude, hoodwink, mislead, take in, dupe, fool, double-cross, cheat, defraud, swindle, outwit, outmanoeuvre, catch out, gull, hoax, bamboozle, beguile;
informal con, bilk, diddle, rook, put one over on, pull a fast one on, pull the wool over someone's eyes, take for a ride, lead up the garden path, spoof, shaft, do, have, gyp, flimflam
North American informal sucker, snooker, goldbrick, give someone a bum steer
Australian informal pull a swifty on
archaic cozen, chicane, sell
rare illude
1.1 (trick someone into) Use deception to make someone do (something): he tricked her into parting with the money
More example sentences
  • But he denied the charge and a fellow prisoner later came forward and admitted he tricked him into smoking a cigarette which contained illegal substances.
  • He tricked Sita into crossing the circle and took her to his island kingdom in Lanka.
  • She clearly remembered when she tricked Lucas into going in the wrong direction.
1.2 (trick someone out of) Use deception to deprive someone of (something): two men tricked a pensioner out of several hundred pounds
More example sentences
  • Instead, she uses cajolery, deception, and sexual manipulation to trick him out of consummating the marriage.
  • A conman posing as a police officer is believed to have struck four times in Wickford, preying on women in their 80s and tricking them out of money.
  • Restaurants try to trick you out of a little more money in exchange for a lot more food.
2 Heraldry Sketch (a coat of arms) in outline, with the colours indicated by letters or signs.
Example sentences
  • Can you 'trick' this representation to indicate the tinctures or colours?


1Intended or used to deceive or mystify, or to create an illusion: a trick question
More example sentences
  • It is not an optical illusion or trick photography.
  • For some reason, I'm a sucker for trick questions.
  • Do you understand that I will not ask any trick questions on this test?
2North American Liable to fail; defective: a trick knee
More example sentences
  • More than once he'd predicted a storm, rain or otherwise, because his trick knee was acting up or another kind of disaster because his elbows were aching.
  • I had to quietly excuse myself from a Vinyasa class with mutterings of trick knee.
  • Individuals with minor knee pain, clicking, giving way or a "trick knee" usually are experiencing the earliest symptoms of arthritis.



do the trick

informal Achieve the required result: a coat of paint might have done the trick, making things that bit more cheery
More example sentences
  • These young men may not be able to beat their opponents physically, but speed and craft does the trick in achieving results.
  • I've had back trouble and if I want to keep playing to the standard I need to take on a physio full time so this is doing the trick for me.
  • Since conventional medicine wasn't doing the trick, I decided to venture out into the world of ‘alternative.’
be effective, work, solve the problem, take care of the problem, achieve the desired result, fill/fit the bill;
North American  turn the trick
informal do the necessary

every trick in the book

informal Every available method of achieving what one wants.
Example sentences
  • As far as I can determine, we have a one-party rule whose leadership uses every trick in the book to abuse their power by attempting to ignore and completely circumvent laws that do not agree with their views.
  • Deception - albeit comparatively benign - also preoccupies campaign managers in the US Presidential campaign at the moment, as they try every trick in the book to cast their man in the right light.
  • Her parents tried every trick in the book to get her home and off drugs.

how's tricks?

informal Used as a friendly greeting: ‘How’s tricks in your neck of the woods?’
More example sentences
  • He swung me round as if I were a child. ‘So, how's tricks?’
  • Well Marty how's tricks at your other sites?
  • How's tricks with you where you're working now?

not miss a trick

see miss1.

the oldest trick in the book

A ruse so hackneyed that it should no longer deceive anyone.
Example sentences
  • This is the oldest trick in the book, the ruse to use when all else fails, the last resort of the poor, the desperate, the ticketless and, of course, the professional chancer.
  • That's the oldest trick in the book - trying to turn successful women against each other.
  • I'd fallen for the oldest trick in the book - Hook, line and sinker.

tricks of the trade

Special ingenious techniques used in a profession or craft, especially those that are little known by outsiders.
Example sentences
  • There are a few tricks of the trade with these techniques, and once mastered they make tomato growing a whole lot more satisfying.
  • To succeed in blogging you need to understand it's a craft, with its own tricks of the trade.
  • With proper training and experience, a professional will learn the tricks of the trade, and generally get a job done faster and better than a regular Joe would.

turn a trick

informal (Of a prostitute) have a session with a client.
Example sentences
  • One professional brazenly characterised himself (and by implication the wider profession) as an architectural whore, ever willing to turn a trick.
  • In a seamy storyline, she tries to badger her now-clean brother, Chris, into turning a trick with her in order to earn drug money.
  • She knows there are risks in this, but feels it is safer than walking the streets and turning a trick with a stranger.

up to one's (old) tricks

informal Misbehaving in a characteristic way.
Example sentences
  • ‘Could it be,’ asks Lewis, ‘that the statisticians are up to their tricks again and are overestimating the price falls that are actually occurring?’
  • After the 1997 handover, the western imperialists were up to their tricks.
  • Mr Gray said: ‘It is an utter disgrace, and shows Labour are still up to their old tricks of spinning.’

Phrasal verbs

trick someone/thing out (or up)

Dress or decorate someone or something in an elaborate or showy way: a Marine tricked out in World War II kit and weaponry
More example sentences
  • It was a little hard to drive because they'd tricked it up with so many things that it was too heavy and the suspension wasn't very good and the brakes didn't work half the time.
  • He tricked it out, painted it black, added exhaust pipes behind the passenger seats and gave it its sleek look.
  • She's tricked him out with some brass plates (for added weight) and pipe-cleaner antenna (for extra cuteness).
dress (up), array, attire, rig out, garb, get up;
adorn, decorate, deck (out), embellish, ornament, festoon
literary bedeck, accoutre, apparel, bedizen, caparison, trap out, furbelow



Example sentences
  • Players pick from one of 12 initial pro in-line skaters, and then go off into a Career Mode, which is basically the meat and potatoes of the game, or a Freestyle area, which enables trickers to explore levels and try out moves and combos.
  • The team are awesome but they aren't the best trickers.


adjective ( dated)
Example sentences
  • Many gamblers are addicted to the trickish game, and this controls much of their day-to-day lives.
  • Although a trifle too trickish and studied to rank as Pinter's best work, it is quite good enough to dominate the Broadway scene, and probably will not be surpassed in dramatic quality this season.
  • Some of the louder ceremonial calls were made by men to chase away the trickish spirit ‘so that it cannot bring harm to her children’.


Late Middle English (as a noun): from an Old French dialect variant of triche, from trichier 'deceive', of unknown origin. Current senses of the verb date from the mid 16th century.

  • A medieval word from Old French trichier ‘to deceive or cheat’, which also gave us treachery (Middle English). A 16th-century sense of the word was ‘habit’, which is where the expression up to your old tricks comes from. Children say trick or treat at Halloween when they call at houses, threatening to play a trick on the householder unless a treat is produced in the form of sweets or money. The phrase did not appear until the 1930s in the USA. See also hat-trick

Words that rhyme with trick

artic, brick, chick, click, crick, flick, hand-pick, hic, hick, kick, lick, mick, miskick, nick, pic, pick, quick, rick, shtick, sic, sick, slick, snick, stick, thick, tic, tick, Vic, wick

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: trick

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