shell game

shell game
S s


    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [shel geym]
    • /ʃɛl geɪm/
    • US Pronunciation
    • US IPA
    • [shel geym]
    • /ʃɛl geɪm/

Definitions of shell game words

  • noun shell game a sleight-of-hand swindling game resembling thimblerig but employing walnut shells or the like instead of thimblelike cups. 1
  • noun shell game any deceit, swindle, fraud, or the like. 1
  • noun shell game guessing game 1
  • noun shell game cheat, fraud 1
  • noun shell game a game, typically a swindle, in which spectators are challenged to bet on the location of a small object ostensibly concealed under one of three cups or nutshells manipulated by sleight of hand 0
  • noun shell game any scheme for tricking and cheating people 0

Information block about the term

Origin of shell game

First appearance:

before 1885
One of the 21% newest English words
An Americanism dating back to 1885-90

Historical Comparancy

Parts of speech for Shell game


shell game popularity

A pretty common term. Usually people know it’s meaning, but prefer to use a more spread out synonym. About 36% of English native speakers know the meaning and use word.
According to our data about 54% of words is more used. This is a rare but used term. It occurs in the pages of specialized literature and in the speech of educated people.

shell game usage trend in Literature

This diagram is provided by Google Ngram Viewer

Synonyms for shell game

noun shell game

  • bait and switch — Bait and switch is used to refer to a sales technique in which goods are advertised at low prices in order to attract customers, although only a small number of the low-priced goods are available.
  • bait-and-switch — denoting a deceptive method of selling, by which customers, attracted to a store by sale items, are told either that the advertised bargain item is out of stock or is inferior to a higher-priced item that is available.
  • boiler room — any room in a building (often in the basement) that contains a boiler for central heating, etc
  • bunco — a swindle, esp one by confidence tricksters
  • bunko — bunco

See also

Matching words

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