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Palming” an object (as in a playing card) is a type of sleight of hand, secretly removing the desired article and leaving only the undesired one.


  • (file)


palm off (third-person singular simple present palms off, present participle palming off, simple past and past participle palmed off)

  1. (idiomatic) To sell or dispose of (something) with the intent to deceive; to attempt to pass off a counterfeit or inferior product as genuine.
    • 1871, Mark Twain, Journalism In Tennessee, [1] or [2]
      The inveterate liars of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake are evidently endeavoring to palm off upon a noble and chivalrous people another of their vile and brutal falsehoods []
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 18
      [] the old mangy parcel he sent at Xmas a cottage cake and a bottle of hogwash he tried to palm off as claret that he couldnt[sic] get anyone to drink []
    • 1963, United States Code Annotated [3]
      (p.359) [] no one is to be allowed fraudulently to palm off upon the public his goods as those of another.
      (p.379) It is a fundamental rule that one man has no right to palm off his goods for sale as goods of a rival dealer []

Usage notesEdit

Sometimes appears as pawn off, though this is frequently proscribed as an error.[1][2] Some dictionaries have begun to recognize this form, and some have noted that the phrase pawn upon even predates palm off.[3][4] Often, pawn off differs slightly in meaning, not carrying the same connotations of trickery as palm off.[5]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage
  2. ^ "Pawn" at the Eggcorn Database
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, p722
  4. ^ Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, p493
  5. ^ David Olsen, The Words You Should Know, p101