an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.
a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal: An offer that good must have a gimmick in it somewhere.
a hidden mechanical device by which a magician works a trick or a gambler controls a game of chance.
Electronics Informal. a capacitor formed by intertwining two insulated wires.

verb (used with object)

to equip or embellish with unnecessary features, especially in order to increase salability, acceptance, etc. (often followed by up): to gimmick up a sports car with chrome and racing stripes.

verb (used without object)

to resort to gimmickry, especially habitually.

Origin of gimmick

An Americanism dating back to 1925–30; origin uncertain
Related formsgim·mick·er, noungim·mick·y, adjectiveun·gim·mick·y, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for gimmick

Contemporary Examples of gimmick

Historical Examples of gimmick

  • If you can't find his gimmick in half a day, I'll come out and show it to you.

    The Great Gray Plague

    Raymond F. Jones

  • We have to remember that the gimmick in this whole business is a golden skull.

    The Golden Skull

    John Blaine

  • The "gimmick," as these American subjects put it, is "hot" and the turnover is fantastic.

    High Man

    Jay Clarke

  • And you think me incapable of keeping your secret, ah, gimmick, I believe is the idiomatic term you used.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • That gimmick's pretty much of a spilled secret now, but on p. 270 a swap for you and Lyad it was worth it.


    James H Schmitz

British Dictionary definitions for gimmick



something designed to attract extra attention, interest, or publicity
any clever device, gadget, or stratagem, esp one used to deceive
mainly US a device or trick of legerdemain that enables a magician to deceive the audience
Derived Formsgimmickry, noungimmicky, adjective

Word Origin for gimmick

C20: originally US slang, 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 gimmick

1926 (in Maine & Grant's "Wise-Crack Dictionary," which defines it as "a device used for making a fair game crooked"), American English, perhaps an alteration of gimcrack, or an anagram of magic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper