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[thim-buh l-rig] /ˈθɪm bəlˌrɪg/
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), thimblerigged, thimblerigging.
to cheat by or as by the thimblerig.
Origin of thimblerig
First recorded in 1815-25; thimble + rig
Related forms
thimblerigger, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.”

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 8 Charles H. Sylvester
British Dictionary definitions for thimblerig


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, -rigged
(transitive) to cheat or swindle, as in this game
Derived Forms
thimblerigger, 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
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