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Cantrip is a word of Scots origin to mean a magical spell of any kind,[1] or one which reads the same forwards and backwards.[2] It can also be a witch's trick, or a sham.[3] It is possibly derived from the Gaelic canntaireachd, a piper's mnemonic chant.[4]

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, it is a type of minor spell that generally is the simplest and weakest kind available to learn. ("Most cantrips are simple little spells of no great effect, so... knowledge and information pertaining to these small magics are discarded in favor of the more powerful spells when available.")[5] The differences, in terms of game mechanics, between cantrips and more powerful spells have changed from edition to edition.

In the trading card game Magic: The Gathering, a cantrip is player jargon to refer to a spell that, in addition to any other effect, makes you draw a card.[6]


  1. ^ Cantrip, Dictionary of the Scots Language (online edition).
  2. ^
  3. ^ "cantrip - definition of cantrip by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  4. ^ Cantrip, Dictionary of the Scots Language (online edition).
  5. ^ Gygax, Gary. Unearthed Arcana. TSR, 1987, p. 45.
  6. ^ Magic’s Zero-Level Spells, Forsythe, Aaron. Latest Developments