What’s That Thingummy?
Margareth Wennersteen writes:
Today I heard about the word “wotsit” for the first time. . . It was used as a synonym to a “thingy”, which didn’t match with the definitions I found on the web: “Providing the question isn’t in itself version specific, but is more of a “how do I set up my wotsit to do whatever” type question then I would just have one FAQ, and within the answer have a section for each version or version ranges.”
A search for wotsit garners 105,000 hits, including a brand of cheese puffs called Wotsits (they look like Cheetos), a song called “Wiggle that Wotsit,” and two domains called respectively wotsit.org and wotsit.thingy.com,
Wordnik lists several examples:
. . . the nurse said: ‘that chap has the word LUDO tattooed on his wotsit!’
“ Right, so the Transformers lost their Rubix cube wotsit and they think they left it down the back of our couch. ”
Wotsit can also be used in the sense of so-and-so to refer to a person.
It’s an excellent phone, but is slightly crippled by the fact that it’s a little battered around the edges (I can be a right clumsy wotsit). . .
“ You clever little wotsit. ”
Clearly, wotsit is just the latest incarnation of whatsit, a shortening of what is it? used as a noun to refer to something unknown or unmentionable, as in this example from the OED:
Suddenly you’re a man. Not just because you happen to have a couple of whatsits, but because you feel it.
Another word replaced by wotsit is whatchamacallit, from the phrase “what you may call it.” Whatchamacallit is just too long for this text-speak age.
The verbally-puzzled folks in the Middle Ages also had a version of this all-purpose utterance: what-calle-ye-hym.
Wotsit is one of those words, like thingummy, thingy, thingamabob, thingamajig, doohickey, and doodad, that we throw into our speech when we can’t be bothered to think of the right word.
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