One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A game involving sleight of hand, in which three inverted thimbles or cups are moved about, contestants having to spot which is the one with a pea or other object underneath.
- ‘Find the Lady is, except for the props used, essentially the same as the probably centuries-older shell game or thimblerig.’
- ‘Select your character and find it hidden beneath one of the three containers in the game of thimblerig.’
- ‘There was Dr. Bennett, a riverboat gambler who invented thimblerig and could still outwit the best of them at 70.’
Early 19th century: from thimble + rig in the sense ‘trick, dodge’.
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