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

  • n. A narrow flat braid or rounded cord of fabric used for trimming. Also called guimpe, guipure.
  • n. A limp or a limping gait.
  • n. A person who limps.
  • intransitive v. To walk with a limp.
  • n. Spirit; pep.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Neat; trim; delicate; slender; handsome; spruce; elegant.
  • n. A narrow ornamental fabric or braid of silk, wool, or cotton, often stiffened with metallic wire or coarse cord running through it, used as trimming for dresses, curtains, furniture, etc. Also guimpe.
  • n. Any coarse or reinforced thread, such as a glazed thread employed in lacemaking to outline designs, or silk thread used as a fishing leader, protected from the bite of fish by a wrapping of fine wire.
  • n. The plastic cord used in the plaiting and knotting craft Scoubidou (lanyard making); or, the process itself.
  • n. Gumption; spirit; ambition; vigor; pep.
  • v. To wrap or wind (surround) with another length of yarn or wire in a tight spiral, often by means of a gimping machine, creating gimped yarn, etc. Also, generally, to wrap or twist with string or wire. See gimped.
  • v. To notch or indent; to jag or make jagged; to edge with serrations or grooves.
  • n. A person who is lame due to a crippling of the legs or feet.
  • n. A crippled leg.
  • n. A limp or a limping gait.
  • n. A name-calling word, generally for a person who is perceived to be inept, deficient or peculiar
  • n. A sexual submissive, almost always male, dressed generally in a black leather suit. See Gimp (sadomasochism) in Wikipedia.
  • v. To limp; to hobble.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Smart; spruce; trim; nice.
  • n. A narrow ornamental fabric of silk, woolen, or cotton, often with a metallic wire, or sometimes a coarse cord, running through it; -- used as trimming for dresses, furniture, etc.
  • transitive v. To notch; to indent; to jag.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make or furnish with gimp.
  • To jag; denticulate.
  • Another spelling of jimp.
  • To weave or bind wire into a fabric or cord to stiffen it.
  • n. A coarse thread used in some kinds of pillow-lace to form the edges or outlines of the design.
  • n. A flat trimming made of silk, worsted, or other cord, usually stiffened by wire and more or less open in design, used for borders for curtains or furniture, trimming for women's gowns, etc.
  • n. In angling, a line in which fine wire is woven, or which is bound or wound with wire to increase its strength.

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

  • v. walk impeded by some physical limitation or injury
  • n. disability of walking due to crippling of the legs or feet


Perhaps from French guimpe; see guimpe.
Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
C.1660, perhaps from Dutch gimp or French guimpe, and likely from Old French guimpre, a variant of guipure, a kind of trimming. (Wiktionary)
US slang, c.1925. Maybe influenced by, or cognate with limp. (Wiktionary)
Scots. Alternate form of jimp. Compare Welsh gwymp ("fair, neat, comely"). (Wiktionary)



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  • . . . for I'm a fisher of men and my gimp is doing a saltarello over every body of water to fetch up what it may.
    —Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

    If I may hazard a guess at what on earth Barnes is putting into the mouth of her maniac doctor, this is OED gimp n.1, sense 2., 'A fishing-line composed of silk, etc., bound with wire to strengthen it.'

    November 21, 2008

  • "She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual life involving eternal consequences, with a keen interest in gimp and artificial protrusions of drapery."

    - Middlemarch, George Eliot

    February 12, 2008

  • Gimp runs on Windows and the Mac OS too, although I haven't tried it.

    January 11, 2008

  • Flattened lengths of plastic cord braided together in children's craft projects using the crown sinnet knot.

    January 11, 2008

  • I'm not sure which usage I like the best. The Linux image program, the search for large prime numbers, or the character from Pulp Fiction.

    February 4, 2007