type of boring tool, mid-14c., gymbelette, from Anglo-French and Old French guimbelet, guibelet (12c., Modern French gibelet), which is probably of Germanic origin, perhaps from Middle Dutch wimmelkijn (with substitute of French diminutive suffix), diminutive of wimmel "auger, drill," which is perhaps from a nasalized form of PIE root *weip- "to turn" on the notion of "That which turns in boring." Middle English also had wimble in the same sense (mid-13c.), probably from an Old North French form of the same word.
As the name of a cocktail made with gin or vodka and (Rose's) lime juice, by 1927, apparently originally nautical, presumably from its "penetrating" effects on the drinker (a gimlet was the tool used to tap casks). There also was a British Navy surgeon named Gimlette at the turn of the 20th century who was active in health matters. Popularized in the U.S. during prohibition as being quick and easy to mix, and the lime masked the scent.
updated on January 25, 2018