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Coined c. 1958 by David R. Sawyer of the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC) as a fanciful name for model railroad parts, perhaps originally as a proper noun.[1] More general use presumably dates from the 1960s, as it is not found in the TMRC dictionaries of 1959 or 1960.[2]


frobnitz (plural frobnitzes)

  1. Synonym of gizmo

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ frobnicate” in Eric S[teven] Raymond, editor, The Jargon File, version 4.4.7, 29 December 2003, quoting Peter Samson: “Under the TMRC [railroad] layout were many storage boxes, managed (in 1958) by David R. Sawyer. Several had fanciful designations written on them, such as ‘Frobnitz Coil Oil’. Perhaps DRS intended Frobnitz to be a proper name, but the name was quickly taken for the thing”.
  2. ^ Peter Samson, AN ABRIDGED DICTIONARY of the TMRC LANGUAGE June 1959 (with 2005 commentary), AN ABRIDGED DICTIONARY of the TMRC LANGUAGE late summer/early fall 1960 (with 2005 commentary).

Further reading[edit]