[ pim-puhl ]
/ ˈpɪm pəl /
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noun Pathology.

a small, usually inflammatory swelling or elevation of the skin; papule or pustule.


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Origin of pimple

1350–1400; Middle English, nasalized variant of Old English *pypel (whence pyplian to break out in pimples) <Latin papula pimple
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does pimple mean?

A pimple is a small inflammation or swelling of the skin that may or may not be filled with pus.

Pimples are caused by acne, a skin condition in which the skin’s sebaceous glands become clogged and inflamed.

Pimples are most commonly found on the face, but they can appear on other areas of the skin, such as the neck and back. They are most common among teens and preteens due to changes in body chemistry during the period of development known as puberty, but adults can also get pimples.

An even more informal term for a pimple is zit. The informal terms whitehead and blackhead are used to refer to specific kinds of pimples. Technical terms for types of pimples include pustule and papule.

Example: My skin is naturally oily, so I have to buy a specific face wash to prevent pimples.

Where does pimple come from?

The first records of the word pimple come from around the late 1300s. It comes from the Old English pipilian, “to break out in pimples,” from the Latin papula, meaning “pimple.”

Everyone gets pimples at some point, but some people get them more than others. Acne, which causes pimples, sometimes goes away on its own, but sometimes it calls for additional treatment by a dermatologist—a doctor who specializes in skin conditions.

Pimple is used in the phrase goose pimples, which is another way to say goose bumps, the bumps you get on your skin when you’re cold or scared. Goose pimples aren’t actually pimples—they’re what happens when your hair stands on end. In places where you don’t have hair, they just appear as bumps on your skin.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to pimple?

  • pimply (adjective)
  • pimpled (adjective)

What are some synonyms for pimple?

What are some words that share a root or word element with pimple


What are some words that often get used in discussing pimple?


How is pimple used in real life?

Pimples are fairly common, especially among teens. Most people treat them as an annoyance.



Try using pimple!

Is pimple used correctly in the following sentence?

I can’t believe I got a pimple on my nose right before the dance!

British Dictionary definitions for pimple

/ (ˈpɪmpəl) /


a small round usually inflamed swelling of the skin
any of the bumps on the surface of a table tennis bat
pimpled, adjectivepimply, adjectivepimpliness, noun
C14: related to Old English pipilian to break out in spots; compare Latin papula pimple
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

Medical definitions for pimple

[ pĭmpəl ]


A small red swelling of the skin, usually caused by acne.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with pimple


see goose pimples.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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