The prestidigitation cantrip may be among the most versatile spells in the whole game, and the effects that can be created with it vary widely.

Since the spell requires verbal and somatic components, we should probably assume that this applies to all of these different effects. However, if for example you want to use it in order to fool somebody or create a distraction, the verbal component might completely ruin your plan.

Has there ever been any clarification about what the verbal component is, and how it might depend on the desired effect?


2 Answers 2


Unspecified mystic words. It's up to you

The Basic Rules on verbal components (and also PHB p. 203) state,

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion. Thus, a character who is gagged or in an area of silence, such as one created by the silence spell, can't cast a spell with a verbal component.

This is all the rules say on what the verbal components are. Prestidigitation makes no special clarifications about its verbal component. Therefore, we are left with an unspecified verbal component. The rules provide no specific guidance, so it is up to you (or the DM) how you want to flavour your spells, including how distinguishable the components for different effects are.

However, as for whether you could fool someone, Xanathar's Guide to Everything p. 85, Perceiving a Caster at Work, clarifies that spells with components are perceptible. As for how perceptible, see this question on how loud/obvious is a wizard casting a spell. There are no clear rules on precisely how perceptible casting a spell is. If people aren't paying you too much attention they might miss the casting. Otherwise, a Sleight of Hand check might be appropriate to conceal or obfuscate the casting, at the DM's discretion. But bear in mind that casting is not meant to be too subtle: it is obvious enough for someone to cast counterspell as a reaction. Also, one of the major uses of the sorcerer's Subtle Spell metamagic is to conceal casting. But misdirection is different to concealment so has different balance implications.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The word used to describe vocal components in the PHB is "chant" which I harken to religous song or gregorian era chanting. This is hardly quiet. The other requirement is maintaining the pitch and resonance, which for a chant is literally impossible for human auditory faculties to perform quietly (larynx, vocal chords, diaphragm and lips). \$\endgroup\$
    – JKizzle
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 12:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JKizzle a valid interpretation, but not the only one possible. Chants are typically loud, but they don't have to be. Pitch and resonance also needs a minimum volume, but that volume isn't necessarily loud either. You'd be hard-pressed to whisper a verbal component, I agree there, but one could make an argument for the quiet end of normal voice (at, of course, DM discretion). That notwithstanding, I never mentioned 'quiet' in my answer. Instead I mention concealing and obfuscating the casting, which could use misdirection as much as trying to be subtle. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 3:30

Verbal components are meant to be obvious

The whole reason that sorcerers can get access to subtle spell is to stop other characters from being able to see that a spell is being cast by them. Casting a spell when you are right next to someone is meant to be noticed. You'd need to use some kind of misdirection to avoid being noticed and allowing that is up to your DM's discretion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While probably true, this answer would benefit from citing some sources. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 9:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot The word subtle is pretty much the only proof you need. A spell that isn't cast with subtle spell is not meant to be subtle. It might not attract the attention of everyone within hundreds of feet, but it is meant to be pretty obvious. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Subtle Spell also lets you cast spells while bound, gagged, in silence, or similar, so misdirection is not the whole reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ This may be somewhat helpful, but the main part of my question is how the verbal component depends on the specific effect. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 10:39

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