a game involving sleight of hand, in which three inverted cups or nutshells are moved about, and…

a game involving sleight of hand, in which three inverted cups or nutshells are moved about, and contestants must spot which is the one with a pea or other object underneath.
a deceptive and evasive action or ploy, especially a political one.
plural noun: shell games
"officials played a shell game by loading prisoners onto buses during population counts at the jail. they used a shell game in the 2016 election

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