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[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)
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 forms
thimblelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for thimble
  • Make three small openings in remaining halves, using a thimble, and put pieces together.
  • Forget about choosing between the top hat and the thimble.
  • There were little sweet cakes, capped with tea served in three thimble-size, delicate cups.
  • It also had two jacuzzis--and a hot water heater the size of a thimble.
  • He was forced to take the thimble, which the doctors felt had brought on his depression and led to years of intense psychotherapy.
  • The latest hardware package is the size of a thimble.
  • The edges of the thimble should be free of sharp edges, distortion, or cracks.
  • The contractor may reuse the thimble from the removed hook end if it is in serviceable condition.
  • Mosquitoes need standing or calm water to complete their life cycle and can breed in as small as a thimble of water.
British Dictionary definitions for thimble


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
Old English thӯmel thumbstall, from thūmathumb
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 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
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