Definition of thimble in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈθɪmb(ə)l/


1A small metal or plastic cap with a closed end, worn to protect the finger and push the needle in sewing.
Example sentences
  • Daily, a monitor or more advanced student, distributed to each girl in her class a pinafore to wear and a thimble, needle, thread, and materials for work.
  • To keep the nails in place, Ancient Egyptian embalmers sometimes either tied the nails to the fingers and toes, or covered them with metal thimbles.
  • Mary was sitting on the bed, tapping her foot and humming a tune as she set her needles, thimble, and thread into a sack.
2A short metal tube or ferrule.
Example sentences
  • All the brass furniture including the buttplate, sideplate, ramrod thimbles, trigger guard, and patchbox were hand polished bright.
  • It rests in a stainless-steel thimble screwed to the bottom of the barrel.
  • First produced in 1876, it's immediately recognizable by the wiping rod held in thimbles beneath the barrel.
3 Nautical A metal ring, concave on the outside, around which a loop of rope is spliced.


Old English thȳmel 'fingerstall' (see thumb, -le1).

  • thumb from Old English:

    Like finger, thumb is Old English. It shares an ancient root with Latin tumere ‘to swell’, probably because the thumb is a ‘fat’ or ‘swollen’ finger. Thimble is formed from thumb, in the same way that handle is formed from hand. The expression thumbs up, showing satisfaction or approval, and its opposite thumbs down, indicating rejection or failure, hark back to the days of Roman gladiatorial combat. The thumbs were used to signal approval or disapproval by the spectators—despite what many people believe, though, they turned their thumbs down to indicate that a beaten gladiator had performed well and should be spared, and up to call for his death. The reversal of the phrases' meaning first appeared in the early 20th century. In one of the stories from Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), a Roman centurion facing a bleak future says to his friend, ‘We're finished men—thumbs down against both of us.’ In Shakespeare's Macbeth the Second Witch says as she sees Macbeth, ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes.’ A sensation of pricking in the thumbs was believed to be a foreboding of evil or trouble. See also limb, rule

Words that rhyme with thimble

Abu Simbel, cymbal, gimbal, nimble, symbol, timbal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: thim¦ble

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