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In life, sometimes you're able to do something easily that appears very difficult or impressive. Consider a card trick. It might simultaneously be easy for you to learn to perform while impressing your audience.

On the other hand, you might do with great difficulty something that others perceive to be easy. For instance, drawing a perfect circle free-hand on a piece of paper might look easy but in fact it takes much practice to achieve consistently.

Are there adjectives to describe these two cases? That is, feats that are difficult but appear easy, and activities that are easy to perform but appear daunting.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You might be thinking of the deceptive simplicity (seems simple but is not) or deceptive difficulty (seems difficult but is not) of something.

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Just beware that there's some contention over the proper use of 'deceptive' in these situations: How should "deceptively" actually be used? – Roger Feb 5 '14 at 22:01

Sprezzatura is an Italian word describing someone who can make something difficult look easy. In the OED, it's defined as "studied carelessness".

For making something easy look difficult, I might simply use the word overcomplicate.

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It's harder then it looks! – Elliott Frisch Feb 5 '14 at 21:32

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