Words: gimmick, n.

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The Independent Culture
CABLE & WIRELESS continues to move in mysterious ways. In a bid to woo customers to its Internet provider, one of the firm's directors, Janet Somerville, chooses to send a letter printed on clear plastic, which, in defying one to read it, gives rise both to the suspicion that there is a catch in it and to a query about the origins of the word gimmick.

They are in America in the Twenties, where a gimmick was originally a device to swindle gamblers at a seemingly well-run table, and it soon spread to mean a sales ploy. Most likely, it derives from the conjurer's term a "gimac" - a gadget which eases sleight of hand and is an anagram of magic, something not to be confused with the later slang terms for penis and hypodermic needle.

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