a showy, useless trifle; gewgaw.


showy but useless.

Origin of gimcrack

1325–75 for earlier sense; Middle English gib(e)crake; compare Middle English gibben to waver (< Old French giber to shake)

Synonyms for gimcrack Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gimcrack

Historical Examples of gimcrack

  • As a rule, they are of a flimsy and gimcrack order of architecture.

    The Turkish Bath

    Robert Owen Allsop

  • I was never one to jump to gimcrack conclusions, and I said as much with perhaps more candour than the occasion required.

    Witching Hill

    E. W. Hornung

  • Burgee's long, low house was indecently plain, without even so much as a gimcrack or bit of gingerbread decoration.

    Sugar Plum

    Reginald Bretnor

  • Braxton, on the other hand, would let slip no opportunity for sneering at Maltby's work—'gimcrack,' as he called it.

    Seven Men

    Max Beerbohm

  • And do you expect me to pay for this gimcrack excursion of yours?

    The Garden Party

    Katherine Mansfield

British Dictionary definitions for gimcrack



cheap; shoddy


a cheap showy trifle or gadget
Derived Formsgimcrackery, noun

Word Origin for gimcrack

C18: changed from C14 gibecrake little ornament, of unknown origin
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 gimcrack

1610s, "showy person;" sense of "trifle" first recorded 1839; of uncertain origin, perhaps alteration of gibecrake, a kind of ornament on wooden furniture (mid-14c.), perhaps from Old French giber "to rattle, shake" + Middle English crak "sharp noise, crack." In 18c.-19c. it also meant "a person who has a turn for mechanical contrivances."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper