Definition of gimcrack in US English:



  • Flimsy or poorly made but deceptively attractive.

    ‘plastic gimcrack cookware’
    • ‘Most traditional buildings have vanished, to be replaced by gimcrack shoddiness in white tile and blue glass.’
    • ‘And both, more sadly, suffered from slightly gimcrack build quality.’
    • ‘Gimmicks and panacea - like glittery gimcrack lures for fishermen - are widely available and equally useless.’
    • ‘At a time when most automakers are shoehorning every new gimcrack gadget they can into their concept cars, leave it to the stolid Swedes at Volvo to get back to basics.’
    shoddy, jerry-built, badly built, flimsy, insubstantial, rickety, ramshackle, thrown together, makeshift, inferior, poor-quality, second-rate, third-rate, low-grade, cheap, cheapjack, tawdry, rubbishy, kitschy, trashy, crude, tinny
    View synonyms


  • A cheap and showy ornament; a knickknack.

    • ‘A ‘Whatsit,’ as you probably know, is defined as a gadget, tool, gimcrack, or gimmick whose purpose is not immediately apparent (to the uninitiated).’
    • ‘There's nothing you can do to change the little ones' minds about the gewgaws and gimcracks they expect to find beneath the tree - or to stop your in-laws' annual onslaught, for that matter.’
    • ‘He was driving some sissy little Japanese car with odd little tires and wheels and a bunch of ugly gewgaws and gimcracks bolted on.’
    • ‘As soon as they arrive, Amelia excitedly shows Rebecca ‘over every room of the house, and everything in every one of her drawers; and her books, and her piano, and her dresses, and all her necklaces, brooches, laces, and gimcracks '.’
    • ‘The walls were hung with utensils for field and kitchen, and the shelves were stocked with old-fashioned hand tools and cooking gimcracks.’
    ornament, novelty, gewgaw, piece of bric-a-brac, bibelot, trinket, trifle, bauble, gimcrack, bagatelle, curio, curiosity, plaything, toy
    View synonyms


Middle English gibecrake, of unknown origin. Originally a noun, the term denoted some kind of inlaid work in wood, later a fanciful notion or mechanical contrivance, hence a knickknack.