Main definitions of imp in English

: imp1IMP2



  • 1A small, mischievous devil or sprite.

    • ‘In the largest of the ancient cells, the imps waited for him, still in their demon forms, held there where he had bound them.’
    • ‘But then I began to feel rather like a character in one of those moralistic cartoons - a man who has a mischievous imp on one shoulder and a self-righteous angel on the other.’
    • ‘On Thursday night, we will all answer the door to find assorted little devils, imps and ghosts thrusting forward a bag half filled with processed sugar to the cry of ‘Trick or treat’.’
    • ‘I looked at the tracks and saw that little goblins, imps, fairies, and sprites had been in my house.’
    • ‘Unleash as many of your demon imps as you may, but you cannot stop me, and I will continue to follow my own dreams.’
    • ‘In Dungeon Keeper you managed a host of demons, imps, succubi, etc. as you expanded your dungeon's real estate.’
    • ‘His father had been a cider-maker, and a noted cider drinker, so he was an authority on imps - and fairies, and all sorts of things that lesser folk never saw.’
    • ‘To her religious enemies, she was an imp of the Devil, if not probably the Devil himself incarnate.’
    • ‘The bad news is I skipped the cool down and the imps of sloth have decided to punish my errant behaviour with a pinched nerve, that restricts the movement of my head.’
    • ‘When she smiled and curtsied, she reminded me of a sprite-ish imp.’
    • ‘He grinned like an imp, apologised and declared he would instead talk about the policies he would not be pursuing.’
    • ‘Human beings are often exaggerated giants or imps - one hilarious picture shows a short old man with a giant sabre climbing stairs - and key emotional turning points are set in an atmosphere of brightly coloured mists.’
    • ‘And still it sat there upon its inky throne surrounded by inky superstition, leering over him with an evil smirk and waiting - waiting with all the patience of an imp or demon.’
    • ‘Immediately the imp within me starts whispering, ‘Hey, you could do anything you want.’’
    • ‘The imp said, ‘Oh, that is not wonderful,’ and crept into the hole to show Virgil how it was done, whereupon Virgil closed up the hole and kept the imp there.’
    • ‘He did not know what trouble this could bring, for people spoke of elves and imps and brownies living up in the hills.’
    • ‘You say, ‘I've never seen any imps, sprites or goblins in this whole neighborhood!’’
    • ‘The introspection imp usually sits on my shoulder every New Year, but it just seems to be a lot more ‘weighty’ this time.’
    • ‘Twenty years on, our civilised world is dismantled by subtler and more bewildering inner forces, by our own natures, by what Poe called ‘the imp of the perverse’.’
    • ‘This has always been true, as I'm sure you've learned in your classes and in your lives: There have always been these forces, these imps and demons, this terror.’
    demon, little devil, devil, fiend
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A mischievous child.
      ‘a rude young imp’
      • ‘Hundreds of skinny, barefooted, dust-covered imps beg outsiders for money, pens and sweets - the adults are a little more reticent.’
      • ‘Lucy was the youngest of five daughters and was described by her family as a ‘mischievous little imp with a cheeky smile’.’
      • ‘When I take her child-like hand in my meaty paw, my gaze is met with the liquid black eyes of Amélie, the mischievous imp from the movie of the same title.’
      • ‘This girl is something of a mischievous imp who flat out refuses to toe the line!’
      • ‘Disturbed by his superior's methods, Mathieu sees potential in the imps and forms a school choir.’
      • ‘Suddenly gamers were no longer defined as basement-dwelling, anti-social imps.’
      • ‘One day, she is asked to train a new girl, a childish imp.’
      • ‘The latter turned into mischief night: ‘a night supposed by the imps of mischief (rough youths) to be, under some old law or tradition, theirs to do as they wish with’.’
      • ‘There are two sides to her - the hard-nosed competitor you see on television and the mischievous imp that her friends know.’
      • ‘The director steered clear of portraying him as a cheeky imp and wisely made him a nameless creep.’
      • ‘The image of a child was not of innocence but of an imp, a little devil, likely to commit sin unless corrected.’
      rascal, scamp, monkey, fiend, demon, devil, mischief-maker, troublemaker, prankster, rogue, wretch, brat, urchin, whippersnapper, tearaway
      View synonyms


  • Repair a damaged feather in (the wing or tail of a trained hawk) by attaching part of a new feather.


Old English impa, impe ‘young shoot, scion’, impian ‘to graft’, based on Greek emphuein ‘to implant’. In late Middle English, the noun denoted a descendant, especially of a noble family, and later a child of the devil or a person regarded as such; hence a ‘little devil’ or mischievous child (early 17th century).




Main definitions of imp in English

: imp1IMP2


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