Definitions

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

  • n. An alloy of zinc and copper used as imitation gold.
  • n. A cheap imitation.
  • adj. Made of pinchbeck.
  • adj. Imitation; spurious.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An alloy of copper and zinc once used as imitation gold for cheap jewelry.
  • adj. Made of pinchbeck.
  • adj. Sham; spurious, artificial; being a cheap substitution; only superficially attractive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An alloy of copper and zinc, resembling gold; a yellow metal, composed of about three ounces of zinc to a pound of copper. It is much used as an imitation of gold in the manufacture of cheap jewelry.
  • adj. Made of pinchbeck; sham; cheap; spurious; unreal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An alloy of three or four parts of copper with one of zinc, much used in cheap jewelry.
  • Sham; spurious; bogus.

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

  • adj. serving as an imitation or substitute
  • n. an alloy of copper and zinc that is used in cheap jewelry to imitate gold

Etymologies

After Christopher Pinchbeck (1670?-1732), English watchmaker.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Named after Christopher Pinchbeck, an 18th century London watchmaker who developed the alloy. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To-day we analyse ruthlessly thy metre, proclaiming it the butterwoman's rank to market, and thy sentiment, which we dub pinchbeck, and we remember that the Union Jack is used only in the

    Without Prejudice

  • They were ladies of lofty ambition, who for that reason were incapable of taking the least interest in what might be called the 'pinchbeck' things of life, even when they had an historic value, or, generally speaking, in anything that was not directly associated with some object aesthetically precious.

    Swann's Way

  • _Lays_ as "pinchbeck"; and I am rather disposed to think that he took this opportunity for a sort of sally in flank.

    Matthew Arnold

  • Miss Shields had not studied Mr. Matthew Arnold, and was mercifully unaware that not to detect the "pinchbeck" in the _Lays_ is the sign of a grovelling nature.

    The Mark Of Cain

  • It seems difficult for our girls to discriminate between a style of dressing suitable to a wealthy woman of leisure and that suited to a girl in an office on a salary of possibly $12 per week; or to distinguish between really valuable clothing and pinchbeck imitations.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • Lit-lit, tearfully shy and frightened, was bedecked by her bearded husband with a new calico dress, splendidly beaded moccasins, a gorgeous silk handkerchief over her raven hair, a purple scarf about her throat, brass ear-rings and finger-rings, and a whole pint of pinchbeck jewellery, including a Waterbury watch.

    THE MARRIAGE TO LIT-LIT

  • I was absurdly surprised to find, when I myself was converted, that every sort and condition of Christian, practising or pinchbeck, that you can find in the innumerable denominations of Protestantism, can be found in the Catholic Church.

    The taste for magic

  • Fox holds a potlatch to signalize his marriage to Lit-Lit and she, "tearfully shy and frightened, is bedecked by her husband with a new calico dress, splendidly beaded mocassins, a gorgeous silk handkerchief over her raven hair, a purple scarf about her throat, brass earrings and finger-rings, and a whole pint of pinchbeck jewelry, including a Waterbury watch."

    “I, in the course of making my living by turning journalism into literature. . .”

  • I am already thinking about possible research subjects, though the question cannot really arise for several years yet, as I should very much like to feel that I have done some work by the time I leave academia behind, and also because I want to cock a snook at that absurd fellow who has bestridden the field for forty years like a pinchbeck colossus.

    To do

  • What are called honors and dignities, and even dignity and honor, are generally of pinchbeck.

    Les Miserables

Comments

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  • The Russian Countess gave talks on the prisons of Siberia, wearing the headdress and pinchbeck ornaments of a Slav bride...

    - Frank Norris, The Octopus, bk 2, ch. 1

    August 19, 2008

  • "To be sure there was a golden haze over those times and some of the gold was no doubt false, mere pinchbeck at the best; but even so they had an irreplaceable quality of their own..."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 169

    February 13, 2008

  • adjective: counterfeit or spurious.

    November 20, 2007

  • "After watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (1670-1732), who invented it.
    It's ironic that today his name is a synonym for something counterfeit
    but in his time his fame was worldwide, not only as the inventor of
    this curious alloy but also as a maker of musical clocks and orreries*.
    The composition of this gold-like alloy was a closely-guarded secret
    but it didn't prevent others from passing off articles as if made from
    this alloy... faking fake gold!"

    'Blackpool is more than a tower of lights and a rhinestone mile of slots and seasonal variety acts. It is Lancashire's pinchbeck LA.'
    Adam Edwards; Keeping Up And Away From the Neighbours; Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jul 24, 2004."
    - A.W.A.D, November 19, 2007

    November 20, 2007

  • Late lieabed under a quilt of old overcoats, fingering a pinchbeck bracelet, Dan Kelly's token.
    Joyce, Ulysses, 10

    January 7, 2007