Do a Houdini and pull a Houdini

Photo of author


Do a Houdini and pull a Houdini are two versions of an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom do a Houdini or pull a Houdini, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Do a Houdini or pull a Houdini is a phrase that means to disappear or escape; to leave the scene or to wiggle out of a precarious situation. The idiom do a Houdini or pull a Houdini is often ended with the word act, as in do a Houdini act and pull a Houdini act. Related phrases are does a Houdini, did a Houdini, has done a Houdini, doing a Houdini, pulls a Houdini, pulled a Houdini, has pulled a Houdini, pulling a Houdini. The expression do a Houdini or pull a Houdini came into use in the twentieth century, though its popularity soared in the 1980s. Both versions of the phrase are American idioms. Harry Houdini was a Hungarian immigrant to the United States who performed as a magician at the turn of the twentieth century; he was world-renown for his escape acts. In his later years, Houdini devoted his time to exposing charlatans who conducted seances, claiming to speak with the dead. Note that Houdini is capitalized because it is a proper name.


Corruption did not die last night and nor did black money do a Houdini and disappear. (Firstpost)

With his reputation for doing a Houdini disappearing act after a killing, and an assurance that the target is a very bad person – one of Billy’s conditions – he agrees. (Irish News)

They do need a lot of exercise and engagement to be happy, otherwise they may pull a Houdini and escape from your yard in search of fun.  (Reader’s Digest)

Barnes, with nobody out, managed to pull a Houdini trick and efficiently escaped his inherited-runners jam. (New York Daily News)

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered: