hocus-pocus

Hocus-pocus is an illusion or a meaningless distraction that tricks you in some way. Some people believe in astrology, while others think horoscopes are nothing but hocus-pocus.

A car salesman might use smooth-talking hocus-pocus to distract you from the fact that you're paying way too much for your new convertible, and similarly, a magician uses hocus-pocus to draw her audience's attention away from the rabbit behind her back or the card up her sleeve. The word hocus-pocus originally came from magic shows, in fact — it's fake Latin, probably copied from the Latin Mass invocation, Hoc est corpus meum, "this is my body."

Definitions of hocus-pocus
1

n verbal misrepresentation intended to take advantage of you in some way

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.