What Does the Word “Gimmick” Mean and Where Did the Word Gimmick Come From?

Gimmick or gimac, either way it’s spelled, a gimmick is a gadget or idea that gives you an advantage.

The second spelling is an anagram of magic.

The word comes from the language of professional magicians and means a small, secret device, like a mirror or sliding panel, that makes an illusion possible.

Carnival barkers picked up gimac in the 1920s as a reference to a hidden control over their wheels of chance that ensured the wheel would stop when the barkers wanted it to stop.

Today, a gimmick is most often used in advertising or selling, but it’s still part of an illusion.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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