thimblerig

noun
thim·​ble·​rig | \ ˈthim-bəl-ˌrig How to pronounce thimblerig (audio) \

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

Other Words from thimblerig

Verb

thimblerigger noun

Did you know?

The game of thimblerig seems innocent enough. The thimblerigger places a little ball, pea, or other small object under one of three thimbles or cups. He or she deftly scoots the cups around on a table, then asks the player to bet on which one hides the object. But thimbleriggers are masters of sleight of hand and can move and manipulate the object 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

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Time Traveler for thimblerig

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The first known use of thimblerig was in 1826

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Dictionary Entries Near thimblerig

thimble lily

thimblerig

thimbleweed

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Cite this Entry

“Thimblerig.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thimblerig. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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