- a little devil or demon; an evil spirit.
- a mischievous child.
- Archaic. a scion or offshoot of a plant or tree.
- Archaic. an offspring.
- to graft (feathers) into a wing.
- to furnish (a wing, tail, etc.) with feathers, as to make good losses or deficiencies and improve powers of flight.
- Archaic. to add a piece to; mend or repair.
Origin of imp
SynonymsSee more synonyms for imp on Thesaurus.com
- a small demon or devil; mischievous sprite
- a mischievous child
- (tr) falconry to insert (new feathers) into the stumps of broken feathers in order to repair the wing of a hawk or falcon
Word Origin and History for imping
Old English impe, impa "young shoot, graft," from impian "to graft," probably an early West Germanic borrowing from Vulgar Latin *imptus, from Late Latin impotus "implanted," from Greek emphytos, verbal adjective formed from emphyein "implant," from em- "in" + phyein "to plant" (see physic).
Sense of "child, offspring" (late 14c.) came from transfer of word from plants to people, with notion of "newness" preserved. Modern meaning "little devil" (1580s) is from common use in pejorative phrases like imp of Satan.
Suche appereth as aungelles, but in very dede they be ymps of serpentes. ["The Pilgrimage of Perfection," 1526]