Archaic Definition of the Week – Gimp (and Pinchbeck)

ADOTWgimp (n.) Silk, wool, or cotton tape used for edging. In 1774 Alexander Bartram advertised in a Philadephia newspaper, “pinchbeck, hand stilliards, gimp, and glover’s needles.”

Colonial American English: A Glossary by Richard M. Lederer, Jr.


And, in case you were wondering:

pinchbeck (n.) An alloy of four parts of copper to one part of zinc, used to imitate gold in cheap watchcases, invented by Christopher Pinchbeck, a London watchmaker (1670-1732). A 1754 South Carolina newspaper advertised: “An assortment of gold, silver and Pinchbeck watches.”


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One comment

  1. Interesting. They still sell gimp for making bracelets but now it’s plastic. I’ve also heard it used as a derogatory slang for ‘disabled’. Never knew what the word actually meant.

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