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thimblerig

[thim-buh l-rig]
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noun
  1. a sleight-of-hand swindling game in which the operator palms a pellet or pea while appearing to cover it with one of three thimblelike cups, and then, moving the cups about, offers to bet that no one can tell under which cup the pellet or pea lies.
verb (used with object), thim·ble·rigged, thim·ble·rig·ging.
  1. to cheat by or as by the thimblerig.

Origin of thimblerig

First recorded in 1815–25; thimble + rig
Related formsthim·ble·rig·ger, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for thimble-rigging

Historical Examples

  • Thimble-rigging has of late years given way to broad-working.

    The Slang Dictionary

    John Camden Hotten

  • Some of these gentry play a game very much like thimble-rigging, in which copper cash, appears under different inverted teacups.

  • Some day or other a serious student wakes up to the fact that he is the victim of—shall we say a thimble-rigging game?


British Dictionary definitions for thimble-rigging

thimblerig

noun
  1. a game in which the operator rapidly moves about three inverted thimbles, often with sleight of hand, one of which conceals a token, the other player betting on which thimble the token is under
verb -rigs, -rigging or -rigged
  1. (tr) to cheat or swindle, as in this game
Derived Formsthimblerigger, noun

Word Origin

C19: from thimble + rig (in obsolete sense: a trick, scheme)
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