What is "trick" in slang? A comprehensive expert guide - 33rd Square (2024)

by Nelson Ayers

As an expert in data analysis and tech trends, I‘m fascinated by the evolution of language, especially slang terms like "trick." This word has some nuanced and interesting slang meanings that give insight into urban culture and societal attitudes. In my extensive research, I‘ve discovered the various contexts and connotations of "trick" when used in slang. Let me walk you through what I‘ve learned!

"Trick" as prostitution slang

One of the most common slang uses of "trick" relates to prostitution and the sex trade:

  • A "trick" is slang for a sex act performed in exchange for payment, usually with a prostitute. It directly refers to an act of prostitution.

  • "Turning tricks" means working as a prostitute, or performing sex acts professionally.

  • A "trick pad" is a brothel – a place where sex is sold.

  • "Tricking" can refer to either paying for sex as a customer, or selling sex as a prostitute.

This slang use of "trick" in a prostitution context originated in the 1930s or earlier in America. The first printed example is in the book "A Dictionary of American Slang" from 1934.

Likely it derives from the idea of "tricking" someone out of money in exchange for sex. The prostitute performs a "trick" to swindle the customer.

YearSlang Reference
1934"Trick – an act of prostitution." (A Dictionary of American Slang)
1961"She hustles tricks for Rosie. She turns ten tricks a night…" (A Dictionary of American Slang)
2003"Remember to get paid first, and don‘t let a trick sweet talk you out of your money." (The whor*‘s Story, by Tyler Stoddard Smith)

As you can see, the "trick as prostitution" usage spans decades in American slang. Next I‘ll explore how "trick" also conveys deceit and manipulation more broadly.

"Trick" to mean deceit or pranks

Beyond specifically referencing sex work, "trick" can also generally refer to any kind of deceitful act, prank, or scam:

  • "She got tricked into giving away her personal data."

  • "I can‘t believe I fell for your sneaky trick!"

  • "He played an April Fools‘ Day trick on his brother by switching the salt and sugar."

  • "Her lying was just a dirty trick to manipulate me."

So you can "trick" someone by misleading them or intentionally fooling them. It‘s an underhanded act of deception. This meaning has evolved from old French "triche" meaning "deceit" or "trickery."

Some examples of deceitful "tricks":

  • undercover cops performing "tricks" to arrest people
  • tricks to make someone look foolish as a prank
  • tricks to scam money out of people

So in summary, as slang "trick" can refer to deceitful or manipulative acts – ranging from harmless pranks to criminal scams.

"Trick" for skills and talent

"Trick" can also positively mean a clever or skilful act. This is especially common in fields like magic, stunt performance, and dance:

  • A magician does card tricks, coin tricks, and other sleight-of-hand tricks to amaze their audience.

  • Skateboarders and BMX riders do complex tricks and stunts.

  • Breakdancers incorporate acrobatic tricks into their dance routines.

  • Rappers showcase metaphorical lyrical "tricks."

So a "trick" here displays talent – not deceit. However, the cleverness and showmanship required links back to the idea of deception and illusion.

A few examples:

FieldExamples of "Tricks"
Magicmaking coins disappear, guessing cards, etc
Stuntsflip tricks on a bike, skateboard tricks, parkour
Danceheadspins, flips, freezes, floats
Rappuns, wordplay, flows

In these contexts, performing a good "trick" demonstrates skills and earns respect.

Other slang meanings

"Trick" has some additional slang meanings too:

  • "Trick out" means to decorate or equip something in an elaborate, fancy way. Like a "tricked out" car with custom paint, rims, stereo, etc.

  • A "trick" can be a gullible person who is easy to fool or manipulate. As in "That guy is an easy trick."

  • "Tricks" can refer to a woman‘s female friends. Like "Where are your tricks at tonight?"

  • "Tricks" can mean current business or ways of living. For example, "How‘s tricks?" as a casual way of asking "How‘s business?" or "How have you been?"

Regional variations

"Trick" sees some interesting regional slang variations:

  • In the UK, to "trick" someone means to deceive them or play a trick on them.

  • In the American South, "tricks" can specifically mean customers of a prostitute.

So in summary, as an expert I‘m fascinated by the nuances of slang terms like "trick." It can convey deceit and manipulation – but also clever talent. The richness of meaning gives insights into people‘s perspectives on sexuality, ethics, and skills. Slang is a window into culture! Let me know if you have any other slang words you want me to explore.

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What is "trick" in slang? A comprehensive expert guide - 33rd Square (2024)


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