• gimmick •
gi-mik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A piece of trickery.
Notes: Today's Good Word originated as a gimmick itself (see Word History) but has survived long enough to have created a family. The adjective is gimmicky "containing a gimmick, like a gimmick" with an implied adverb, gimmickily. (Note the Y becomes I.) The art of creating gimmicks or the class of all gimmicks is gimmickery. Anything lacking gimmicks is gimmickless.
In Play: A gimmick is anything designed to trick someone into doing something they would not otherwise do: "Professor Lambrani's cane is not so much a support as a gimmick for gaining him the sympathy of his students and colleagues." Advertising and marketing have replaced magicians as the No. 1 users of gimmickery: "Rebates are gimmicks that allow advertisers to offer reduced prices only to customers willing to do bothersome work for them."
Word History: Today's Good Word started out in life as a thing of magic. It seems to have originated around the early 1920s but, like most new words in those days, was not spelled for years. The original spelling was apparently intended to be gimac, an anagram of the word magic. The word itself was first used by those who had the greatest need of gimmicks at the time, magicians. It soon came to mean "a device for making a fair game crooked" (Wise-Crack Dictionary, 1926), then on to what it means today. (Tim Ward uses no gimmicks in coming up with interesting words like this one, which he first suggested we explore.)
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