Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Nonsense words or phrases used as a formula by quack conjurers.
  • noun A trick performed by a magician or juggler; sleight-of-hand.
  • noun Foolishness or empty pretense used especially to disguise deception or chicanery.
  • transitive verb To play tricks on; deceive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A juggler; a trickster.
  • noun A juggler’ trick; a cheat used by conjurers; jugglery.
  • Juggling; cheating.
  • To juggle; deceive; cheat.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb colloq. To cheat.
  • noun A term used by magicians or conjurers in pretended incantations.
  • noun Archaic A juggler or trickster.
  • noun A magician's trick; a cheat; nonsense.
  • noun Obfuscating talk or elaborate but meaningless activity intended to hide a deception or to obscure what is actually happening; verbal misrepresentation intended to take advantage of you in some way.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • interjection A phrase used as a magical incantation to bring about some change.
  • noun A specific act of trickery or nonsense.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun verbal misrepresentation intended to take advantage of you in some way

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Possibly from an alteration of Latin hoc est corpus (meum), this is (my) body (words used in the Eucharist at the time of transubstantiation).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Dates from the 17th century when used by jugglers and magicians as a nonsense magical incantation. . Some believe it is a corruption of words from the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist, hoc est corpus meum, although this is disputed.

Examples

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