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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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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
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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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