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Alteration of gemel, from Old French jumel (twin) (French jumeau), from Latin gemellus



gimbal (plural gimbals)

  1. A device for suspending something, such as a ship's compass, so that it will remain level when its support is tipped.
    • 1902, Joseph Conrad, Typhoon, Chapter II,[1]
      The lamp wriggled in its gimbals, the barometer swung in circles, the table altered its slant every moment []
    • 1934, A. E. W. Mason, “The Chronometer,” Chapter II, in Dilemmas, London: Hodder & Stoughton,[2]
      He lifted the chronometer off the gimbals on which it was slung in the mahogany case and showed the number engraved upon the bottom.



gimbal (third-person singular simple present gimbals, present participle gimballing or gimbaling, simple past and past participle gimballed or gimbaled)

  1. (transitive) To suspend using a gimbal or gimbals.
    • 1918, Richard Dehan (Clotilde Graves), That Which Hath Wings, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Chapter 32,[3]
      [] he conned his course in masterly fashion by aid of the roller-map, protected by its transparent, rainproof casing, or the compass, clock, altimeter, and other instruments gimballed in the wooden frame in front of the pilot’s seat.
  2. (transitive, aeronautics, space) To move a reaction engine about on a gimbal so as to obtain pitching and yawing correction moments.[1]
  3. (intransitive) To swivel, move on an axis.


  1. ^ Joseph A. Angelo, Jr., The Dictionary of Space Technology, NY: Facts On File, 1982, p. 89.