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thimble

[thim-buh l] /ˈθɪm bəl/
noun
1.
a small cap, usually of metal, worn over the fingertip to protect it when pushing a needle through cloth in sewing.
2.
Mechanics. any of various similar devices or attachments.
3.
Nautical. a metal ring with a concave groove on the outside, used to line the outside of a ring of rope forming an eye.
4.
a sleeve of sheet metal passing through the wall of a chimney, for holding the end of a stovepipe or the like.
5.
a thimble-shaped printing element with raised characters on the exterior: used in a type of electronic typewriter or computer printer (thimble printer)
Origin
1000
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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

thimble

/ˈθɪmbəl/
noun
1.
a cap of metal, plastic, etc, used to protect the end of the finger when sewing
2.
any small metal cap resembling this
3.
(nautical) a loop of metal having a groove at its outer edge for a rope or cable, for lining the inside of an eye
4.
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
n.

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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Encyclopedia Article for thimble

small, bell-shaped implement designed to protect the end of the finger when sewing. Among the earliest known thimbles, dating from before AD 79, were those made of bronze and found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Modern thimbles are almost exclusively produced in plastic or soft metals. Purely decorative thimbles are produced in an endless variety of materials and forms as collectibles.

Learn more about thimble with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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