A pimp is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing (or in some cases monopolizing) a location where she may engage clients. A woman who runs a brothel is known as a madam rather than a pimp.
Typically, a pimp does not force prostitutes to stay with him, but the low-level types will abuse them in order to keep them in line or maximize profits. A pimp may also offer to protect them from other pimps, prostitutes or abusive clients. He can also enable a prostitute to work in a particular area under his control. Pimping is a sex crime in most jurisdictions.
The word pimp is of unknown origin. It first appeared in English around 1600 and was used then as now to mean "a person who arranges opportunities for sexual intercourse with a prostitute." The figurative meaning, "a person who panders to an undesirable or immoral impulse," was found by the middle of the 17th century. The verb to pimp dates from the early 17th century.
But the word has seen a renaissance of sorts, with a strong increase in use in recent years. Media attention to (and glamorization of) the stereotype of the inner-city pimp brought such terms as pimpmobile and pimp walk - an ostentatious swagger affected chiefly by African-American men - to public attention in the 1970s. More recently, we've seen the advent of a range of benign figurative uses. We can now pimp our possessions, making them flashily decorated or customized, a use mainstreamed by MTV's car-detailing show, Pimp My Ride. An attractive or appealing man may be called a pimp, and this is viewed as a positive description. To describe something using the accolade pimping is to mark it as wonderful or exciting. Jay-Z's 2001 hit "Big Pimpin'" used the term as shorthand for a livin'-large lifestyle.
But while “pimping” a ride or a wardrobe may have become an acceptable usage, “to pimp” when applied to a woman is still the unlovely practice of sending her out to be a whore.
And for some PIMP is short for: Peeing In My Pants (laughing)