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gim·​crack ˈjim-ˌkrak How to pronounce gimcrack (audio)
: a showy object of little use or value : gewgaw
gimcrackery noun


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Did you know?

Gimcrack is one of many peculiar-sounding words that have pervaded our language to refer to something ornamental and of little value. Others include bauble, trinket, knickknack, gewgaw, kickshaw and tchotchke. Bauble appears to be the oldest among the group, with known evidence of usage dating back to the 14th century. The earliest available evidence of gewgaw and kickshaw is from the 16th century, whereas gimcrack and knickknack established themselves in the 17th century. Tchotchke, borrowed from Yiddish, is by far the most recent addition to our language, first appearing as an English word in the 20th century.

Examples of gimcrack in a Sentence

Noun a remarkable amount of money is spent on gimcracks and other unnecessary items each year their apartment has enough gimcracks to fill up a novelty company's warehouse Adjective a store plastered with “going out of business” signs and notorious for selling gimcrack merchandise
Recent Examples on the Web
January is a multiplex clearance sale, littered with horror movies as gimcrack as the unsold toys wheeled out after the holidays. A.a. Dowd, Chron, 5 Jan. 2023 The movie works hard to be a soulfully offbeat kiddie entertainment, an antidote to the gimcrack cynicism that has ruled too many cartoon-cutup-in-the-land-of-live-action Hollywood products. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 6 Oct. 2022 The inevitable flood tide of gimcrack Biden souvenirs has yet to start in earnest, but there are some. New York Times, 6 Dec. 2020 So will the border continue to vanish in the face of nativist backlash and a trumpery, gimcrack wall? Felipe Fernández-Armesto, WSJ, 25 June 2018 Science fiction on the screen had been pinched, gimcrack, borderline laughable. Mark Feeney,, 10 May 2018 The designer Vicki Mortimer has created a set that feels like a gimcrack warehouse, full of old ladders and lights and puppet-stage-like window frames. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 16 Aug. 2016 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gimcrack.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



origin unknown

First Known Use


1676, in the meaning defined above


1715, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gimcrack was in 1676


Dictionary Entries Near gimcrack

Cite this Entry

“Gimcrack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

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