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thimble

[thim-buh l]
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noun
  1. a small cap, usually of metal, worn over the fingertip to protect it when pushing a needle through cloth in sewing.
  2. Mechanics. any of various similar devices or attachments.
  3. Nautical. a metal ring with a concave groove on the outside, used to line the outside of a ring of rope forming an eye.
  4. a sleeve of sheet metal passing through the wall of a chimney, for holding the end of a stovepipe or the like.
  5. a thimble-shaped printing element with raised characters on the exterior: used in a type of electronic typewriter or computer printer (thimble printer).

Origin of thimble

before 1000; Middle English thym(b)yl, Old English thȳmel; akin to Old Norse thumall thumb of a glove. See thumb, -le
Related formsthim·ble·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for thimble

Historical Examples

  • Sarah was married to the very silversmith who had engraven our names on the thimble!

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Better not offend a fairy, even though no higher than a thimble!

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • This is an in-door game, founded on the familiar "Hunt the Thimble."

    Boy Scouts Handbook

    Boy Scouts of America

  • I saw a fellow empty a barrel with a thimble, once—on a bet.

    Prairie Flowers

    James B. Hendryx

  • I have lost my thimble, and I've broken my china cup, so perhaps you have brought me one.


British Dictionary definitions for thimble

thimble

noun
  1. a cap of metal, plastic, etc, used to protect the end of the finger when sewing
  2. any small metal cap resembling this
  3. nautical a loop of metal having a groove at its outer edge for a rope or cable, for lining the inside of an eye
  4. short for thimbleful

Word Origin

Old English thӯmel thumbstall, from thūma thumb
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 thimble

n.

Old English þymel "sheath or covering for the thumb," from thuma (see thumb) + -el, suffix used in forming names of instruments (cf. handle). Excrescent -b- began mid-15c. (cf. humble, nimble). Originally of leather, metal ones came into use 17c. Thimblerig, con game played with three thimbles and a pea or button, is attested from 1825 by this name, though references to thimble cheats, probably the same swindle, date back to 1716.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper