[ thim-buh l ]
/ ˈθɪm bəl /


a small cap, usually of metal, worn over the fingertip to protect it when pushing a needle through cloth in sewing.
Mechanics. any of various similar devices or attachments.
Nautical. a metal ring with a concave groove on the outside, used to line the outside of a ring of rope forming an eye.
a sleeve of sheet metal passing through the wall of a chimney, for holding the end of a stovepipe or the like.
a thimble-shaped printing element with raised characters on the exterior: used in a type of electronic typewriter or computer printer (thimble printer).

Nearby words

  1. thigmesthesia,
  2. thigmotaxis,
  3. thigmotropism,
  4. thilk,
  5. thill,
  6. thimbleberry,
  7. thimbleful,
  8. thimblerig,
  9. thimbleweed,
  10. thimblewit

Origin of thimble

before 1000; Middle English thym(b)yl, Old English thȳmel; akin to Old Norse thumall thumb of a glove. See thumb, -le

Related formsthim·ble·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thimble

British Dictionary definitions for thimble


/ (ˈθɪmbəl) /


a cap of metal, plastic, etc, used to protect the end of the finger when sewing
any small metal cap resembling this
nautical a loop of metal having a groove at its outer edge for a rope or cable, for lining the inside of an eye
short for thimbleful

Word Origin for thimble

Old English thӯmel thumbstall, from thūma thumb

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 thimble



Old English þymel "sheath or covering for the thumb," from thuma (see thumb) + -el, suffix used in forming names of instruments (cf. handle). Excrescent -b- began mid-15c. (cf. humble, nimble). Originally of leather, metal ones came into use 17c. Thimblerig, con game played with three thimbles and a pea or button, is attested from 1825 by this name, though references to thimble cheats, probably the same swindle, date back to 1716.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper