from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. See shell game.
- n. One who operates a thimblerig.
- transitive v. To swindle with or as if with a thimblerig.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A game of skill which requires the bettor to guess under which of three small cups (or thimbles) a pea-sized object has been placed after the party operating the game rapidly rearranges them, providing opportunity for sleight-of-hand trickery; a shell game.
- n. One operating such a game.
- v. To cheat in the thimblerig game.
- v. To cheat by trickery.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A sleight-of-hand trick played with three small cups, shaped like thimbles, and a small ball or little pea.
- transitive v. To swindle by means of small cups or thimbles, and a pea or small ball placed under one of them and quickly shifted to another, the victim laying a wager that he knows under which cup it is; hence, to cheat by any trick.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To cheat by means of thimblerig, or sleight of hand.
- n. A sleight-of-hand trick played with three small cups shaped like thimbles, and a small ball or pea.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a swindling sleight-of-hand game; victim guesses which of three things a pellet is under
To play fast and loose now means to behave in a deceitful or irresponsible manner. shell game This old gambling game (earlier known as thimblerig), in which the operator openly places a pea under one of three walnut shells, then rapidly shifts the shells around and challenges a sucker to bet on the location of the pea, has given its name to any kind of chicanery or subterfuge.
Our artist then can cover up faces, and yet show them quite clearly, as in the thimblerig group; or he can do without faces altogether; or he can, at a pinch, provide a countenance for a gentleman out of any given object — a beautiful Irish physiognomy being moulded upon a keg of whiskey; and a jolly
But the only object of this argument is to show how mal-adroitly Mr. Landor plays at thimblerig.
In these circumstances, and smarting as I was under the recollection of recent defeat, it is not strange that I thought I detected the old political ruse of dressing the wolf in sheep's clothing, of using handsome pledges as a mask to deceive the gullible, and that I assumed that this scholarly amateur in politics was being used for their own purposes by masters and veterans in the old game of thimblerig.
And yet every day one saw more distinctly that they were the pea in the thimblerig of life, the hub of a universe which, to the approbation of the majority they represented, they were fast making uninhabitable.
"Telling the Bees," "Hey for the Ferry!" and two in the style of Frith, all thimblerig and crinolines, given them by Swithin.
Your genuine pietist would find a mystical sense in thimblerig.
Russian carnival on the ice, oxen being sometimes roasted whole, and all kinds of "fakirs," as they are now termed, selling doughnuts, spruce-beer, and gingerbread, or tempting the adventurous with thimblerig; many pedestrians stopping at the old-fashioned inn on Smith's
There are comic and _genre_ pictures of parties, where the gentlemen and ladies are sometimes represented as being the worse for wine; of dances where ballet-girls in short dresses perform very modern-looking pirouettes; of exercises in wrestling, games of ball, games of chance like chess or checkers, of throwing knives at a mark, of the modern thimblerig, wooden dolls for children, curiously carved wooden boxes, dice, and toy-balls.
Our artist then can cover up faces, and yet show them quite clearly, as in the thimblerig group; or he can do without faces altogether; or he can, at a pinch, provide a countenance for a gentleman out of any given object -- a beautiful Irish physiognomy being moulded upon a keg of whiskey; and a jolly English countenance frothing out of a pot of ale