I'm currently reading Neuromancer, and as somebody for whom English is their second language, understanding Gibson's fanciful vocabulary is quite a challenge. Now there is one particular term - "thimble" - that struck my attention at least twice and I fail to get what it is supposed to mean - maybe somebody here can help me.

Two examples:

-He sipped thick black coffee from a street vendor's foam thimble and watched the sun come up.

-Very easy, please", Terzibashjian said, his white china thimble frozen centimeters from his lips.

Now, when I try to look up the meaning of "thimble" all I can find is this:

Cup thimble that completely covers the end of your finger

or this:

Curved wire thimble that does not completely cover your finger

Neither makes any sense in either context.

Any ideas what is meant by "thimble" in the above examples?

1 Answer 1


The context for both quotes involves drinks served in cups. Thus, the most likely explanation is that they are as they seem, containers for liquid. Why would you call them "thimbles"? Presumably, they're small, the size of a finger-tip, much like a sewing thimble. In real life, thimble cups are a bit larger, but are still pretty small.

The second quote you have makes more sense with context of the preceding paragraph (bolding mine):

Terzibashjian proved to be a young man in a gray suit and gold-framed, mirrored glasses. His white shirt was open at the collar, revealing a mat of dark hair so dense that Case at first mistook it for some kind of t-shirt. He arrived with a black Hilton tray arranged with three tiny, fragrant cups of thick black coffee and three sticky, straw-colored Oriental sweets.


"Very easy, please," Terzibashjian said, his white china thimble frozen centimeters from his lips.

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