Sunday, April 2, 2017

Speaking the Language of Whatchamacallits

It's so frustrating when you use a gadget all the time but don't know what it’s called and you have to describe this thing because somethings gone wrong with it. I was reminded of this the other day. I needed to charge my FitBit so plugged it in when I went to bed. The next morning, it hadn’t charged.

I tried to describe the problem to my husband – who had the good grace (and sense) not to laugh in front of me, but I did hear him chuckling later. The conversation when something like this:

Me: I plugged my FitBit into the whatchamacallit it came with so you can charge it and then plugged that into the thingy that plugs into the wall. I didn’t know that my iPad gadget wouldn’t work with my FitBit thingy. They look the same.

Husband: Huh? You plugged your FitBit into a what?

Me: I don’t know. The thingy that lets me plug things into the power strip. It’s got a cord and one end attaches to the FitBit and the other end attaches to the whatchamacallit.  

He looked confused.

Me: You know. One little thingy goes into another little thingy and that makes it all work.

Husband: Can you show me what you’re talking about?

I drag him into the bedroom and point.

Husband: Oh, you mean the charger.

Me: If that’s what it’s call, (beaming) then yes.

Husband: (I’m not even going to try and transcribe his explanation for why the two devices didn’t communicate – something about different volts. Let me just say… he’s a physicist).

The conversation would have gone more smoothly – except for the explanation part – if I’d known the whatchamacallit was a charger. Oh, well.

As I writer I run into this all the time. In the book I'm currently writing, I had a couple walk over an arched, stone footbridge. The stopped and leaned on the... You know, the flat part on top of the barrier on the edge of each side of the bridge. I'm sure there's a name for it and I Googled the parts of a bridge, but couldn't find anything. I finally settled on, "they leaned on the railing" hoping that would create the correct picture in reader's mind.  

See if you know what to call some of these everyday items.

  1. The small metal cover between the pencil and the eraser?
  2. The paper around the stem of the glass of your fancy imported beer?
  3. The little bumps on the ‘F’ and ‘J’ keys on your keyboard?
  4. The wire cage around a champagne cork?
  5. The small turning knob on your watch?
  6. The plastic closure thingie on a bag of bread?
  7. The piece that holds your earring in place?
  8. The stringy bits when you peel a banana?
  9. The plastic bits at the ends of your shoelaces?

You’ll find the answers on BuzzFeed.

You can also pick up some interesting trivia on MentalFloss.

Here are some other words I use when I have no idea what to call something (these are in no particular order, simply as they popped into my head): thingie, doodads, widgets, thingamajigs, thingamabob, doohickie, whatsit, doojigger, dealy, and gizmo.

Love to hear what other terms people use. Feel free to add them in the comments.

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