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

shell game

A means of deceiving or cheating by moving things from one place to another so as to conceal one’s actions. The term, dating from the late 1800s, comes from an old carnival game in which three shells are moved quickly around and a person bets under which of them a small ball or pea has been placed. Thomas C. Palmer, Jr. used it in the Boston Globe of April 12, 2000: “. . . the nation’s biggest public works project could not survive the revelations that the Big Dig was badly over budget—and that the truth had been kept from the public with an elaborate shell game.”
See also: game, shell
References in periodicals archive ?
However, de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said, "The proposal is a shell game that pits one group of New Yorkers who need safe, decent housing, against another."
It's because the engineered utility companies got steamrolled by slicker managers at shell game companies like Enron.
Epistemologically, I consider postmodernism a kind of hocus-pocus, a shell game, not a serious approach to the real world.
This is a great example that shows that conventional approaches to pricing freight is analogous to a playing a shell game; sometimes things appear and sometimes they don't.
Our studies suggest that instead, many states have played a shell game with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, backfilling cuts to education with those one-time dollars.
Do you really expect us to pump the big-top minutes into this shell game with lifespan, this unsought forward-swap?
The shell game that moves money from the federal treasury to the bands cheats First Nations kids of an education even roughly comparable to that of other Canadian children."
Irene tricked him in a shell game (no nut under any of the shells).
As for the loyal GOP opposition, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor correctly called the Obama proposal a "shell game," a plan that "seems to offer little incentive for private investors to participate unless the subsidy is made so rich that it comes at the expense of the taxpayer."
It's also difficult to pay attention when this odd reverse shell game (Marcus Garvey?
Although many politicians had resorted to this shell game before him, Mr.
Latin America has replaced (or reelected) 11 presidents in the past year, not counting the couple run out of office just before the big leadership swap of '06, nor the Cuban shell game going on now.
"The Chamber is playing an elaborate shell game to conceal its gambit to stack the courts with hand-picked pro-corporate judges," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.
Even more disturbing, however, is the Bush administration's tactical decision to play a shell game by concentrating its efforts in the global environment by focusing on HIV/AIDS.
When the investments didn't pan out, Gruttadauria began an elaborate shell game, using money from new clients to replace the failed investments of established clients.