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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 thimblerig

Historical Examples

  • A Tory told me it was a second edition of the thimblerig speech, which, if so, will not do him good.

    The Greville Memoirs

    Charles C. F. Greville

  • How terribly alike are all human rogueries, whether the scene be a conference at Vienna, or the tent of a thimblerig at Ascot!

    The Fortunes Of Glencore

    Charles James Lever

  • The real name of this man Crockett never told, but assigned to him the nickname “Thimblerig.”


British Dictionary definitions for thimblerig

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