The words “pimp” and “pimping” have become somewhat common, and I often hear people using them incorrectly.  Wikipedia is basically useless on this subject, so I am submitting my authoritative dissertation as a service to the world.

For starters, “pimp” has largely fallen out of use as a term to describe a man who finds clients for a prostitute.  The industry doesn’t operate that way anymore, for a variety of reasons which could be covered in a future dissertation.

Today, a “pimp” is any man who does little work and has multiple women give him money and expensive gifts.  This is accomplished by borrowing money and not paying it back, alternately telling her sweet things and abusing her, getting her involved in questionable investment schemes, getting her to buy expensive gifts, and so on.  One should not consider the woman in this relationship to be a victim; it’s a complex but common codependency pattern which deserves a dissertation of its own.

A “pimp” depends on his ability to impress women (in most cases).  He needs to appear to be physically and financially strong, in order to get women to fight over him.  He most definitely should not have lots of money to spare, otherwise the women would ask for their money back, and he would have a harder time borrowing.  In short, the women need to believe that “this guy would be rich and a great protector, but the system is unfair, so what can you do?”  He needs to look rich, so other women can be jealous when he is out with a particular woman, and so on.

Because of these constraints, and because the type of women attracted to pimps are not necessarily good at knowing what real quality is, the symbols of virility adopted by pimps are usually flashy, tawdry, gaudy and cheap.  In addition, since women of this caliber tend to be influenced mainly by broad sweeping demonstrations and spectacle (as opposed to reason or money), the pimp knows that you can never have too much jewelry, too many bright colors, or too funky a wardrobe.

Therefore, “pimping” is to adorn oneself or one’s posessions with flashy symbols for the purpose of impressing others.  It is most accurate when used to describe enhancements that most normal people would not spend any time or money on, and which are of questionable value outside the context of the pimp’s social circle.


Therefore, a geek could “pimp” his XBox Console or PC with some flashing lights, heavy-duty cooling equipment and so on.  But adding a productivity-enhancement like GTD toolbar for Outlook, is not “pimping”.

6 thoughts on “Pimping”

  1. Oh, it’s pretty common in the industry right now — “pimp your blog”, “pimp Windows Live”, and so on. In addition, semantics and language precision are a common theme of this blog.

  2. Yes, but you could expand on “…to adorn … with flashy symbols for the purpose of impressing others. It is most accurate when used to describe enhancements that most normal people would not spend any time or money on, and which are of questionable value…” with regard to software.

  3. Sterling: good point — I added two examples.

    Mark: Ordell made considerable income from other sources, if I remember correctly. I mean, his livelihood sprung from his ability to concoct schemes, in which he enlisted the help of women, but he didn’t technically get the bulk of his money directly *from* women. So he was more old-school pimp than modern pimp; though he was overall a good archetype for the relationships between pimp and ho.

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