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Magic Terms

Posted on September 26, 2007 by chris ballinger There have been 4 comment(s)

We have compiled a list of terms for people interested in magic, so they can get a jump start on the lingo. (We have excluded terms that we think give away the secrets to effects.)

Busking – To perform in a public area usually for tips. This term is not exclusive to magic, but to any kind of public performing art. Street Magic is considered a form of Busking.
Close-Up - Performance style that happens right in front of the audience at close-range. It’s more interactive magic that usually includes the use of coins, cards, and other small day-to-day objects.
Control - Ability move or track a card from one point of the deck to another. Typically from the middle to the top of bottom using one of many shuffling techniques.
Face - The part of a card that shows its value and suit. Reverse of back.
Flashing - When someone in the audience see something that they shouldn't. Accidentally exposing a gimmick or method during the performance.
Flourish - A move that displays dexterity and skill, but does not necessarily achieve a magic effect. Flourishes can include shuffles, fans, rolls, and cuts.
Gimmick - A secret device used to achieve something out of the ordinary. Usually a gimmick is camouflaged or hidden from the audience’s view.
Heat - Term used for how closely an audience member is watching you. Intense scrutiny is considered lots of heat. Synonymous with the term 'Burning'.
Impromptu - A trick that needs no backstage preparation.
Mentalism – A form of magic where one appears to possess extreme mind control. Mentalists often employ effects involving telekinesis, mind reading, and fortune telling.
Misdirection - The ability to make your audience look where you want them to while you do something sneaky elsewhere.
Packet - A group of cards that is smaller than a deck. A “Packet Trick” refers to a routine that uses less than a full deck of cards.
Parlor Magic- In between Close-Up and Stage Magic. Plays to a larger crowd, and usually uses day-to-day objects.
Patter - Scripted material said while performing magic.
Pips - Marks on a card: Clubs, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds.
Reversed Card - A card that is turned the opposite direction of the other cards in a deck.
Self-Working - A trick that requires no Sleight of Hand.
Sleight - A secret technique for achieving an effect. Also called a "move".
Stage Magic - Large, illusion based magic. Usually done with larder props and done on a stage or platform.
Stock - A packet of cards that have been prearranged somewhere in the deck.
Sucker Trick - Routine that sets the audience up to think that the magician has failed, only to be fooled by the unexpected triumph.
Switch - The secret exchange of props.
Transposition - Then one object or person switches places with another object or person by impossible means.

There are a lot of terms missing, so if you can think of any additions, please comment with your suggestions.

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4 Responses to Magic Terms

  • Mike
    Mike says:

    Wow, that is a great information. I'm new to magic and have been out of the loop on many of the common terms. Thanks for putting that together!

    Posted on September 26, 2007 at 8:09 am

  • Chris
    Chris says:

    Hey, what do you know? I thought of another one... CONVINCER: A subtlety that is used to make the audience believe what you are telling them. Usually a casual action with the props before the start of the trick.

    Posted on September 28, 2007 at 7:03 am

  • David
    David says:

    Do you know when the Ultra Gaff Deck will be back in stock?

    Posted on May 8, 2010 at 9:50 am

  • Greg Carlson

    Patter: The talk or story that accompanies the performance of a trick.

    Load: Items prepared for a production of some sort. ‘To load’ means secretly getting the load into the position needed for the trick.

    Posted on July 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm