thimblerig

noun
thim·ble·rig | \ˈthim-bəl-ˌrig \

Definition of thimblerig 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a swindling trick in which a small ball or pea is quickly shifted from under one to another of three small cups to fool the spectator guessing its location

2 : one who manipulates the cup in thimblerig : thimblerigger

thimblerig

verb
thimblerigged; thimblerigging

Definition of thimblerig (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cheat by trickery

2 : to swindle by thimblerig

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from thimblerig

Verb

thimblerigger noun

Did You Know?

Verb

The game of thimblerig seems innocent enough. The thimblerigger places a seed under one of three thimbles. He or she deftly scoots the thimbles around on a table, then asks the player to bet on which one hides the seed. But thimbleriggers are masters of sleight of hand and can move and manipulate the seed unfairly - so the guileless player doesn't stand a chance of winning. (The poor bettor is probably unaware that "rig" has meant "to manipulate or control usually by deceptive or dishonest means" since the 1800s.) When the same sham is played with nutshells, it's called a "shell game," and there's a related game played with cards known as "three-card monte."

Examples of thimblerig in a Sentence

Verb

had the feeling that I had just been thimblerigged by the sweetest-looking old lady

First Known Use of thimblerig

Noun

1826, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thimblerig

Share thimblerig

Listen to Our Podcast about thimblerig

Statistics for thimblerig

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thimblerig

The first known use of thimblerig was in 1826

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on thimblerig

See words that rhyme with thimblerig

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thimblerig

Comments on thimblerig

What made you want to look up thimblerig? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!