English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit


Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒɪmkɹæk/
    • (file)

Adjective edit

gimcrack (not comparable)

  1. Showy but of poor quality; worthless.
    • 1876 May – 1877 July, Anthony Trollope, “‘Wonderful Bird!’”, in The American Senator [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1877, →OCLC, page 282:
      It was cocking her up with gimcrack notions about ladies till she'd be ashamed to look at her own hands after she had done a day's work with them.
    • 1919, Sir Max Beerbohm, Seven Men, page 80:
      'The Rape of the Lock' was 'gimcrack,' if you care to call it so; but it was a delicate brilliant work; and so, I repeat, was Maltby's 'Ariel'.
    • 1978 November 19, Martin Amis, “A Stoked‐Up 1976”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      “He scribbled something on a message pad, tore, folded, gave” and “ ‘G-Gay?’ puzzled Bev” are fair examples of Mr. Burgess’s gimcrack contortions.
    • 2013, Charles L. Eastlake, Hints on Household Taste:
      For years past this branch of art-manufacture had been entrusted to those whose taste, if it may be called taste at all, could be no more referred to correct principles of design than the gimcrack decorations of a wedding-cake could be tested by any standard of sculpturesque beauty.
    • 2015 October 8, A[nthony] O[liver] Scott, “Review: 'Steve Jobs,' Apple's visionary C.E.O. dissected [print version: Apple's visionary C.E.O. is dissected, International New York Times, 13 October 2015, page 9]”, in The New York Times[2]:
      The movie burnishes the image of this visionary C.E.O. [Steve Jobs] even as it tries to peek behind the curtain at the gimcrack machinery of omnipotence.

Noun edit

gimcrack (plural gimcracks)

  1. Something showy but worthless; a bauble or gimmick.
    • [1703], Tho[mas] d’Urfey, The Old Mode & the New, or, Country Miss with Her Furbeloe. A Comedy. [], London: [] Bernard Lintott, and sold by Samuel Clark, [], Francis Faucet [], and Lucas Stowkey [], →OCLC, Act IV, scene i, pages 51–52:
      [H]er miſlike of my Dreſs confirms me, this muſt be ſome levvd London Gimcrack, ſome Play-houſe haunting Couſin; []
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      [] he came home to find [] honest Swartz in her favourite amber-coloured satin, with turquoise bracelets, countless rings, flowers, feathers, and all sorts of tags and gimcracks, about as elegantly decorated as a she chimney-sweep on May-day.
    • 1999, Hilton Obenzinger, American Palestine: Melville, Twain, and the Holy Land Mania:
      Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they had they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention most readily.
    • 2012, Frank Norris, A Deal in Wheat and Other Stories of the New and Old West:
      We finds the place after awhile, a lodgin'-house all lorn and loony, set down all by itself in the middle o' some real estate extension like a tepee in a 'barren'—a crazy 'modern' house all gimcrack and woodwork and frostin', with never another place in so far as you could hear a coyote yelp.

Derived terms edit

Verb edit

gimcrack (third-person singular simple present gimcracks, present participle gimcracking, simple past and past participle gimcracked)

  1. (transitive) To put together quickly and without much care; to bodge.
    • 1950, Herbert David Croly, The New Republic - Volume 122, page 20:
      Actually the book is a series of related images (some fresh and sharp) and fragmentary sketches (a few vividly effective), gimcracked together with a semblance of plot and allegory,
    • 2005, Ronald B. Lansing, Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing on the Oregon Frontier, page 244:
      That page, written fifteen years before by Land Recorder Frederic Prigg, was an imprecise description of land without benefit of any survey, and was more eyeball than ciphers, with measures gimcracked together by a claimant and a recorder who barely understood each other.
    • 2010, Brian Morton, Richard Cook, The Penguin Jazz Guide:
      He led only a handful of record dates and some of these were gimcracked round a desire to feature the bass as a solo instrument, often rather artificially so.
    • 2015, William J. Palmer, The Highwayman and Mr. Dickens:
      I wos gimcracked right inta the middle o' these murders like a puppet on a string an' I'm the one ta wrap that string around the puppetmaster's neck.
  2. (transitive) To embellish with gimcracks.
    • 1976, James William Johnson, Prose in Practice: A Rhetorical Reader, page 100:
      Furthermore many of the peripheral characters and myths that the Disney interests have appropriated over the years have been gimcracked to death, so that they have none of their original integrity .
    • 2015, Dorothy B. Hughes, The Davidian Report:
      It was a small café, gimcracked with atmosphere, the usual red-checkered tablecloths, and candles dribbling down the sides of old wine bottles.
    • 2015, Kris Saknussemm, Private Midnight:
      Merle the Pearl, Juicy Fruit, Latigo, Slippery Will Carothers and Star Fontaine, this gimcracked stripper who had no qualms about taking her dentures out at the bar—they were all still there, mechanically drinking like toy dipping birds in the Blue Curaçao gloom.