Definitions for smoke and mirrors

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word smoke and mirrors

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

smoke′ and mir′rors(n.)

  1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) something that distorts or blurs facts, figures, etc.; artful deception.

Origin of smoke and mirrors:

1980–85

Wiktionary

  1. smoke and mirrors(Noun)

    A deceptive, fraudulent, or unconvincing explanation or description.

  2. Origin: From the dubious vaudeville techniques traditionally used by stage magicians.

Freebase

  1. Smoke and mirrors

    Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians' illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a distracting burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception. In the field of computer programming, it is used to describe a program or functionality that does not yet exist, but appears as though it does. This is often done to demonstrate what a resulting project will function/look like after the code is complete — at a trade show, for example. More generally, "smoke and mirrors" may refer to any sort of presentation by which the audience is intended to be deceived, such as an attempt to fool a prospective client into thinking that one has capabilities necessary to deliver a product in question. Compare red herring.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. smoke and mirrors

    Marketing deceptions. The term is mainstream in this general sense. Among hackers it's strongly associated with bogus demos and crocked benchmarks (see also MIPS, machoflops). “They claim their new box cranks 50 MIPS for under $5000, but didn't specify the instruction mix — sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.” The phrase, popularized by newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin c.1975, has been said to derive from carnie slang for magic acts and ‘freak show’ displays that depend on trompe l'oeil effects, but also calls to mind the fierce Aztec god Tezcatlipoca (lit. “Smoking Mirror”) for whom the hearts of huge numbers of human sacrificial victims were regularly cut out. Upon hearing about a rigged demo or yet another round of fantasy-based marketing promises, hackers often feel analogously disheartened. See also stealth manager.

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