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[gim-ik] /ˈgɪm ɪk/
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.
1925-30, Americanism; origin uncertain
Related forms
gimmicker, noun
gimmicky, adjective
ungimmicky, adjective
1. stunt, plan, ruse, ploy; angle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for gimmicks
  • The sushi bar at the back of the cozy restaurant often fills with locals who crave pristine sushi without any gimmicks.
  • No guarantee that fancy gimmicks won't be problematic for second owners.
  • What is interesting is the breadth of choice, and some of the gimmicks.
  • We've compiled a quick list of some of the more brazen spec gimmicks to be wary of this holiday season.
  • The mix of features looks to be about right, balanced between consumer-friendly gimmicks and full-on-manual controls.
  • As similar gimmicks become widespread, privacy concerns will invariably mount.
  • The package is a complicated mixture of savings, spending increases and accounting gimmicks.
  • Others detect a whiff of neocolonialism: gimmicks dreamed up in rich countries being foisted on poor ones.
  • The first is that it is free of gimmicks in content and structure.
  • Moreover, there are far many tricks up the sleeves of advertising gurus and companies than these cheap gimmicks.
British Dictionary definitions for gimmicks


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 Forms
gimmickry, noun
gimmicky, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for gimmicks



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
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Slang definitions & phrases for gimmicks


  1. A secret device or hidden trick that causes something to work and assures that the customer will not win; gaff: A new gimmick, infra-red contact lenses, which enabled a card player to read markings on the backs of cards (1926+)
  2. Any device; gadget (1930s+)
  3. pparatus used for preparing and injecting narcotics; works: A small red cloth bag with his spike needle and ''gimmicks'' fell out (1960s+ Narcotics)
  4. A feature in a product, plan, presentation, etc, believed to increase appeal, although it is not necessarily useful or important; grabber, hook: This promo isn't bad, but we sorely need a gimmick (1950s+)
  5. One's selfish and concealed motive; angle, percentage: This looks fine, Mr Mayor. What's your gimmick, anyhow? (1950s+)

: Get a fairly good item, then gimmick the hell out of it

[origin unknown; perhaps fr gimcrack]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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