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  1. a tack with a large, flat head, designed to be thrust into a board or other fairly soft object or surface by the pressure of the thumb.
verb (used with object)
  1. to attach or tack by means of a thumbtack.

Origin of thumbtack

An Americanism dating back to 1880–85; thumb + tack1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for thumbtack

Historical Examples

  • The latter she suspended by a thumbtack beside the mirror of her bureau.

    Out of the Air

    Inez Haynes Irwin

  • She took the miniature, thumbtack and all, from the wall, 183 and put it in her wrist bag.

    Out of the Air

    Inez Haynes Irwin

  • A thumbtack is inserted in the standard near the top to prevent the box from being lifted entirely from the base.

  • Lay the stencil pattern in position and thumbtack it down to the cheese cloth and blotting paper.

  • If knives are used to cut out the design, thumbtack the leather before commencing.

British Dictionary definitions for thumbtack


  1. mainly US and Canadian a short tack with a broad smooth head for fastening papers to a drawing board, etcAlso called (esp in Britain): drawing pin
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 thumbtack


tack with a broad, flat head which may be driven by pressure from the thumb, 1884, from thumb (n.) + tack (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper