shell game


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shell game

1. A game in which an object is placed under one of three cups or shells, which are then moved around. The person playing the game must guess the final location of the object. Don't play any of those stupid shell games at the carnival, they're impossible to win!
2. By extension, a method of deception that involves hiding or obscuring the truth. Primarily heard in US. The appliance salesman played a shell game and switched the refrigerator I agreed to purchase with a used model. A Ponzi scheme is a type of shell game that always fails because it relies on money from new investors in order to pay old investors.
See also: game, shell

a shell game

AMERICAN
If someone is playing a shell game, they are deliberately deceiving people, usually by changing things or pretending to change things, in order to gain an advantage. At the same time, O'Leary was playing a shell game, moving money from one account to another to satisfy debts. Independent financing — with its soft money schemes and local tax breaks — is at best a shell game. Note: The shell game is an old confidence trick. An object is hidden under one of three cups, which are then moved out of their original order. The victim bets on where the object is, and typically gets it wrong. The trick may have become known as the shell game because it was originally done with walnut shells rather than cups.
See also: game, shell
References in periodicals archive ?
There is a temporary "winner" in the shell game - California motorists.
To Cuomo's imitatorsfor example, Senators Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Chris Dodd, Dick Durbin, Tom Daschle (former Senator and Majority Leader), and John Kerrythe Notre Dame speech was not only an instruction on how to play the shell game but the very philosophical foundation for the exercise: it's OK, because the smart Mario Cuomo explained it.
Thanks for pointing out that Bush's newly discovered interest in spending billions globally on AIDS is just talk, unless and until he backs his words with dollars ["Bush's Shell Game," March 18].
They lied about how much money their company was making to inflate values and screwed investors in the process by means of a complex shell game, using middlemen to create the illusion that new revenue was coming in, when, in reality, the bottom line was not affected.
Special Commission, in the seven years after the end of the Gulf war Iraq played a continuous shell game with inspectors and suspect facilities.
Liberalism is now viewed, from the Foucauldian perspective, as a mere shell game, a nothing-up-my-sleeves performance in which the pretense of neutrality functions as a necessary distraction while the privileged few ruthlessly consolidate their oppressive power over the masses.
Under this month's Big Top, with its cleverly engineered "games of chance" and must-see attractions, we do examine one facility's attempt to beat the Prospective Payment System, the industry's version of the shell game where, if played correctly, there is a chance of minimizing your losses
It follows the structure of an action movie, but moves it around like a shell game.
The federal government may grow weary of states using this shell game to match federal dollars with federal dollars, or a court may rule that equal protection is violated by taxing one nursing home, which derives no benefit from the tax, to bolster the finances of a competitor.
Investigators say that as Black's investments faltered, he played a shell game, gathering money from new customers to pay returns on older accounts and inflating financial statements to cover his tracks.
But tropical forests are only one player in the carbon shell game.
Simultaneously telling taxpayers they may not engage in "abusive" transactions without giving meaningful guidance regarding the types of transactions that are to be deemed "abusive" is tantamount to a shell game.
And the shell game among levels of government has led to there being more holes in the safety net than there is net.
Administration Tries To Play Shell Game To Hide The Damage; Advocates Not Fooled
It was in 1987 when the 17yearold girl started dating a guy she barely knew, and then she was allured to playing this shell game with a random, obviously satanic, man who'd give her $500 after the game.