[ thim-buhl-rig ]
/ ˈθɪm bəlˌrɪg /
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See synonyms for: thimblerig / thimblerigging on Thesaurus.com


a sleight-of-hand swindling game in which the operator palms a pellet or pea while appearing to cover it with one of three thimblelike cups, and then, moving the cups about, offers to bet that no one can tell under which cup the pellet or pea lies.

verb (used with object), thim·ble·rigged, thim·ble·rig·ging.

to cheat by or as by the thimblerig.



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Origin of thimblerig

First recorded in 1815–25; thimble + rig (in a British sense “a swindle, fraud”)


thim·ble·rig·ger, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use thimblerig in a sentence

  • The real name of this man Crockett never told, but assigned to him the nickname “Thimblerig.”

  • A Tory told me it was a second edition of the thimblerig speech, which, if so, will not do him good.

    The Greville Memoirs|Charles C. F. Greville
  • How terribly alike are all human rogueries, whether the scene be a conference at Vienna, or the tent of a thimblerig at Ascot!

    The Fortunes Of Glencore|Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for thimblerig

/ (ˈθɪmbəlˌrɪɡ) /


a game in which the operator rapidly moves about three inverted thimbles, often with sleight of hand, one of which conceals a token, the other player betting on which thimble the token is under

verb -rigs, -rigging or -rigged

(tr) to cheat or swindle, as in this game

Derived forms of thimblerig

thimblerigger, noun

Word Origin for thimblerig

C19: from thimble + rig (in obsolete sense: a trick, scheme)
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