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[thim-buh l] /ˈθɪm bəl/
a small cap, usually of metal, worn over the fingertip to protect it when pushing a needle through cloth in sewing.
Mechanics. any of various similar devices or attachments.
Nautical. a metal ring with a concave groove on the outside, used to line the outside of a ring of rope forming an eye.
a sleeve of sheet metal passing through the wall of a chimney, for holding the end of a stovepipe or the like.
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 forms
thimblelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.

    Golden Moments Anonymous
  • However, no wonder, as you had never heard of the thimble and pea game, but I will tell you.

    Lavengro George Borrow
  • In a dish of mashed potatoes place a ring, a dime, and a thimble.

    Games For All Occasions Mary E. Blain
  • Alida laid down her work with care and placed her thimble in the basket.

    Country Neighbors

    Alice Brown
  • You're the only one that's brought their thimble, I'll be bound.

    Country Neighbors

    Alice Brown
  • The eggs are smooth, coffee-coloured and shaped like a thimble.

British Dictionary definitions for thimble


a cap of metal, plastic, etc, used to protect the end of the finger when sewing
any small metal cap resembling this
(nautical) a loop of metal having a groove at its outer edge for a rope or cable, for lining the inside of an eye
short for thimbleful
Word Origin
Old English thӯmel thumbstall, from thūmathumb
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 thimble

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
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