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[jim-krak] /ˈdʒɪmˌkræk/
a showy, useless trifle; gewgaw.
showy but useless.
Origin of gimcrack
1325-75 for earlier sense; Middle English gib(e)crake; compare Middle English gibben to waver (< Old French giber to shake)
1. bauble, knickknack, trinket, ornament. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gimcrack
Historical Examples
  • I will buy her the necklace she scolded me about at Lacy and gimcrack's; it's just the sum.

  • A nice set you must be to give your gimcrack craft such a name as that!

    Fitz the Filibuster George Manville Fenn
  • The Gothic souls find fault with it, and say it is gimcrack and tawdry and cheap.

    Aaron's Rod D. H. Lawrence
  • As a rule, they are of a flimsy and gimcrack order of architecture.

    The Turkish Bath Robert Owen Allsop
  • He then thought of what a fool he had been to give her back that gimcrack pistol.

    The Peace of Roaring River George van Schaick
  • The work-bag, I'll bet you all I am worth, has not a gimcrack in it that is not her own.'

  • Not mastery of oneself—just gimcrack, made-in-Birmingham mastery.

  • And do you expect me to pay for this gimcrack excursion of yours?

    The Garden Party Katherine Mansfield
  • When gazing at it one gazed at the ruin, not of a cottage or of a gimcrack villa, but at the ruins of a palace.

    December Love Robert Hichens
  • I was never one to jump to gimcrack conclusions, and I said as much with perhaps more candour than the occasion required.

    Witching Hill E. W. Hornung
British Dictionary definitions for gimcrack


cheap; shoddy
a cheap showy trifle or gadget
Derived Forms
gimcrackery, noun
Word Origin
C18: changed from C14 gibecrake little ornament, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gimcrack

1610s, "showy person;" sense of "trifle" first recorded 1839; of uncertain origin, perhaps alteration of gibecrake, a kind of ornament on wooden furniture (mid-14c.), perhaps from Old French giber "to rattle, shake" + Middle English crak "sharp noise, crack." In 18c.-19c. it also meant "a person who has a turn for mechanical contrivances."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gimcrack



A gaudy trifle; gewgaw; curiosity (1632+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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