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  1. a flat trimming of silk, wool, or other cord, sometimes stiffened with wire, for garments, curtains, etc.
  2. a coarse thread, usually glazed, employed in lacemaking to outline designs.

Origin of gimp1

1655–65; apparently < Dutch gimp < ?


noun Chiefly Northeastern U.S.
  1. spirit, vigor, or ambition.

Origin of gimp2

First recorded in 1900–05; origin uncertain


  1. a limp.
  2. Usually Disparaging and Offensive. a term used to refer to a person who limps or is lame.
verb (used without object)
  1. to limp; walk in a halting manner: a sprain that made her gimp for weeks.

Origin of gimp3

An Americanism dating back to 1920–25; origin uncertain
Related formsgimp·y, adjective

Usage note

When describing someone who is lame, gimp is used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting. But within the disability community, it is sometimes a term of self-reference.


adjective Scot. and North England.
  1. jimp.


or gimp

adjective Scot. and North England.
  1. slender; trim; delicate.
  2. scant; barely sufficient.

Origin of jimp

First recorded in 1500–10; origin uncertain
Related formsjimp·ly, adverbjimp·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gimp

Historical Examples

  • "She hasn't any of Josie's gimp," was old Cyrus's unspoken fault.

    Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1905 to 1906

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  • For a moment I toyed with the idea of being honest with the Gimp.

    The Big Fix

    George Oliver Smith

  • But then it did indeed occur to me that maybe I could make use of the Gimp.

    The Big Fix

    George Oliver Smith

  • It'll want a piece of binding, or gimp, tacked around the edges.

    The Squirrel Inn

    Frank R. Stockton

  • "Peculiar about Charlie," Gimp answered, looking awed and puzzled.

    The Planet Strappers

    Raymond Zinke Gallun

British Dictionary definitions for gimp



  1. a tapelike trimming of silk, wool, or cotton, often stiffened with wire

Word Origin

C17: probably from Dutch gimp, of unknown origin


  1. US and Canadian offensive, slang a physically disabled person, esp one who is lame
  2. slang a sexual fetishist who likes to be dominated and who dresses in a leather or rubber body suit with mask, zips, and chains

Word Origin

C20: 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

Word Origin and History for gimp


1925, "a crippled leg," also "a crippled person," perhaps by association with limp, or a corruption of gammy (see game (adj.)).


also gymp, ornamental material for trimming dresses, furniture, etc., 1660s, from French guimpe, Old French guimple "wimple, headdress, veil," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German wimpal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper