a. An act or procedure intended to achieve an end by deceptive or fraudulent means. See Synonyms at wile.
b. A mischievous action; a prank: likes to play tricks on the other students in the dorm.
c. A stupid, disgraceful, or childish act: Don't let the kids pull any tricks while we're gone.
a. A peculiar trait or characteristic; a mannerism: “Mimicry is the trick by which a moth or other defenseless insect comes to look like a wasp” (Marston Bates).
b. A peculiar event with unexpected, often deceptive results: “One of history's cruelest tricks is to take words that sounded good at the time and make them sound pretty stupid” (David Owen).
c. A deceptive or illusive appearance; an illusion: This painting plays tricks on the eyes.
a. A special skill; a knack: Is there a trick to getting this window to stay up?
b. A convention or specialized skill peculiar to a particular field of activity: learned the tricks of the winemaking trade.
a. A feat of magic or legerdemain.
b. A difficult, dexterous, or clever act designed to amuse: Does your dog do any tricks?
a. All the cards played in a single round, one from each player.
b. One such round.
a. A period or turn of duty, as at the helm of a ship.
b. Slang A prison term.
a. An act of prostitution.
b. A prostitute's customer.
c. A session carried out by a prostitute with a client.
8. Slang A robbery or theft.
tr. & intr.v. tricked, trick·ing, tricks
To cheat or deceive or to practice trickery or deception.
1. Of, relating to, or involving tricks.
2. Capable of performing tricks: a trick dog.
3. Designed or made for doing a trick or tricks: trick cards; trick dice.
4. Weak, defective, or liable to fail: a trick knee.
trick out (or up) InformalIdioms:
To ornament or adorn, often garishly: was all tricked out in beads and fringe.
do (or turn)the trick
To bring about the desired result.
how's tricks Informal
Used to make a friendly inquiry about a person or that person's affairs.
not miss a trick
To be extremely alert: The teacher was known for not missing a trick.
[Middle English trik, from Old North French trique, from trikier, to deceive, from Vulgar Latin *triccāre, expressive variant of Latin trīcārī, to play tricks, from trīcae, trifles, vexations, tricks, of unknown origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.