A Collection of College Words & Customs written by Benjamin Homer Hall in 1856 defines a "wire" as a trick and I'm curious to know if it is of any relation to a magician using invisible wire to trick his audience? Any thoughts?

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    Seems likely that your explanation is apt, both in relation to the stage and to seances. Floating apparitions and knocking sounds have been controlled by wire. Mar 4, 2014 at 15:40
  • ...and I believe that kind of stage trickery was very much in vogue back then.
    – Stew
    Mar 21, 2014 at 5:23

1 Answer 1


Wire-pulling is associated with trickery: Wire-pulling is defined as political manipulation in The American slang dictionary 1891 and Wire-puller in the political sense is 1848, American English, on the image of pulling the wires that work a puppet.

but a good magician needs to be artful in 'picking your pocket', as well as, adding items to your person, and a wire is a thief with long fingers, expert at picking ladies' pockets. It is reasonable that 'to wire' was 'stolen' from thieves

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    Do you happen to have a reference for "a wire" being "a thief with long fingers"? It's a cool term.
    – MrHen
    Apr 14, 2014 at 18:31

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