Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A hard pitted cup worn for protection on the finger that pushes the needle in sewing.
  • n. Any of various tubular sockets or sleeves in machinery.
  • n. Nautical A metal ring fitted in an eye of a sail to prevent chafing.
  • n. Nautical A metal ring around which a rope splice is passed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A pitted, now usually metal, cap for the fingers, used in sewing to push the needle.
  • n. A similarly shaped socket in machinery.
  • n. A thimbleful.
  • n. A ring of metal or rope used in a ship's rigging; it is a protection against chafing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A kind of cap or cover, or sometimes a broad ring, for the end of the finger, used in sewing to protect the finger when pushing the needle through the material. It is usually made of metal, and has upon the outer surface numerous small pits to catch the head of the needle.
  • n. Any thimble-shaped appendage or fixure.
  • n. A tubular piece, generally a strut, through which a bolt or pin passes.
  • n. A fixed or movable ring, tube, or lining placed in a hole.
  • n. A tubular cone for expanding a flue; -- called ferrule in England.
  • n. A ring of thin metal formed with a grooved circumference so as to fit within an eye-spice, or the like, and protect it from chafing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A ring or oval, made of steel with a concave section on the outside, and convex within, used to form the eye in the end of a wire rope when the latter is bent round the ring and the end spliced into the main part.
  • n. 4. A cone of fat-free paper used in a fat-extraction apparatus.
  • n. 5. A cup-shaped metal support for the handle of a tool in dental operations: it rests in the palm of the hand and is attached to a ring on the middle finger.
  • n. 6. plural A trade-name for crude india-rubber from the lower Kongo and Loanda in small balls of a gray color, darker outside.
  • n. An implement used for pushing the needle in sewing, worn on one of the fingers, usually the middle finger of the right hand.
  • n. In mech., a sleeve, skein, tube, bushing, or ferrule used to join the ends of pipes, shafting, etc., or to fill an opening, expand a tube, cover an axle, etc. It is made in a variety of shapes, and is called thimble-joint, thimble-coupling, thimble-skein, etc. See cut under coupling.
  • n. Nautical, an iron or brass ring, concave on the outside so as to fit in a rope, block-strap, cringle, etc., and prevent chafe, as well as to preserve shape; also, an iron ring attached to the end of drag-ropes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small metal cap to protect the finger while sewing; can be used as a small container
  • n. as much as a thimble will hold

Etymologies

Middle English thimbil, alteration of Old English thȳmel, leather finger covering, from thūma, thumb.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English þȳmel, corresponding to thumb +‎ -le. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Grandpa worries that your thimble is the size of your brain ….

    Think Progress » Friedman Defends Repeated Prediction That ‘The Next Six Months Are Crucial’ In Iraq

  • The black raspberry, which we called thimble berry, was found along the stone walls, but was not abundant.

    Confessions of Boyhood

  • BTW in the picture above, you can see I pinned the pleats to the middle zipper section: I had to sew them by hand (and sewing through naughahyde without a thimble is rough, I'll tell you!).

    Archive 2008-06-01

  • Here and there cluster flocks of light, portable booths, each also with a swaying lantern, where steaming tea is sold in thimble-cups; where saki may be drunk hot and hot, poured from long-necked porcelain bottles, or trays of queer, toothsome-looking sweetmeats are to be had for coins of infinitesimal value.

    In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World

  • A thimble could be a tailor or someone with a thimble fetish.

    Ridley Scott Locked into Directing a Monopoly Movie « FirstShowing.net

  • So going again to his dark closet, he groped for it among his multifarious things, and came back with one similar, except that it was of raw-hide, and the thimble was a little projection looking like a pig's toe.

    Illustrated Science for Boys and Girls

  • The thimble itself was made of solid gold; its base was formed of one beautifully cut sapphire, and round the margin of the top of the thimble was a row of turquoises.

    Girls of the Forest

  • Since the thimble was a payment from Jorô-Gumo, that confirms that we haven't jumped forward any more in time.

    Anime Nano!

  • The men about town flocked in to have a laugh at the mess, and were amazed to find a bottle intact, or a bigger utensil to drink from than a "thimble" indeed.

    The Siege of Kimberley

  • So she took up the thimble, meaning to catch him, but Tom Thumb hid himself amongst the shreds of cloth, and when she began to search through those, he slipped into a crack in the table, but put out his head to laugh at her; so she tried again to hit him with the shred, but did not succeed in doing so, for he slipped through the crack into the table drawer.

    Grimm's Fairy Stories

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Comments

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  • It's also a metal or plastic eye spliced into the end of a wire or line. When a shackle is inserted, the thimble protects the line or wire against chafe.

    August 2, 2009

  • said Hook to Wendy, "Yes, dear. You can give him your thimble"

    June 6, 2009

  • Don't forget that it 'can be loaded from one form of transport to another'. The best times for me and grandad were always the thimble loading days.

    April 15, 2008

  • I never knew that a a large metal boxlike object of standardized dimensions could be called a thimble....

    April 15, 2008

  • Okay, weirdnet...

    April 15, 2008