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There weren't a lot of opportunities for retired car thieves on the gimp.

(from the movie Gone in 60 Seconds)

I'm at a loss as to what it means. The word 'gimp' has many interesting meanings but none of them seem to fit the context. So, I figured, that must be some sort of an idiom. Alas, I couldn't find it either (even in the Urban Dictionary). What does it mean?

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Gimp is a slur for someone with a disability or physical deformity. It has also come to mean someone incapable or incompetent. The ADHS finds usages dating from the 1920s, many of them referring to someone with a bad leg who therefore limps. However, there is an earlier (1877) adjectival usage meaning inferior, second-rate.

The expression on the gimp seems unique to Gone in 60 seconds, where it appears here as well:

MEMPHIS: You know where the others are?

Donny frowns... Looks closely at Memphis ... Then:

DONNY ASTRICKY: Most of 'em are gone. The Dyar Boys are doing a nickel at Chino; Henry Santoro and Frankie Fish are moving weight in Florida; Bill Doolin was killed in Denver... Atley Jackson's on the gimp and runnin' errands for Calitri;

So "on the gimp" refers to retired car thieves who no longer have the skills to boost cars and one Atley Jackson who apparently was once a car thief and is now reduced to the status of errand boy.

I think it's fair to infer from its usage in the film and as documented elsewhere that it means someone who's lost his skills and cannot be considered competent.

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