A shortened version of “what you may call it” or “what you might call it”. United States, 20th century (recorded in 1921).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈwɒtʃəməkɔːlɪt/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈʍʌtʃəməkɔlɪt/, /ˈwʌt-/, /ˈwʌtʃməkɑlɪt/
- Hyphenation: what‧cha‧ma‧call‧it
whatchamacallit (plural whatchamacallits)
- (slang) A metasyntactic term used for any object the actual name of which the speaker does not know or cannot remember; a doodad, gizmo, thingamajig, thingy.
1921, Johnny Gruelle, Orphant Annie Story Book, Volume 7, page 69:
- The Thingamajig and the Wachamacallit.
1972, Carolyn Lane, Child of Air: A One Act Play, Denver, Colo.: Pioneer Drama Service, OCLC 10214341, page 13:
- JESSICA: How many times do I have to say it? We were not stealing, Officer. We were just— / MONAHAN: I know. Performing some kind of whatchamacallit deed. Anyhow, they go to the clink, that's what happens to people who filch city property.
1996, Corbett Mack; as told by Michael Hittman, “Boyhood (1892–1905)”, in Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute (Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians), Lincoln, Neb.; London: University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 978-0-8032-2376-9, page 60:
- I'm a boy, so when I'm sick, they can call in poohaghooma, Indian doctor. But not Tom Mitchell! No, sir! [We] won't have Tom Mitchell to doctor me! 'Cause whatchamacallit, he always used to doctor me …
1998, David Alan Black, “There’s No Place Like Rome: The Parts of Speech and Their Function”, in It’s still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, ISBN 978-0-8010-2181-7, page 19:
- "Think we ought to check this whatchamacallit?" / "No, that doodad over there seems to be the problem."
2014 October, Don Pendleton, chapter 15, in Domination Bid (Don Pendleton’s Stony Man: America’s Ultra-covert Intelligence Agency; Gold Eagle Book), Don Mills, Ont.: Worldwide Library, ISBN 978-0-373-80447-4, page 180:
- As you've said, the safety of the American people is our first priority. We have orders that if these EMP whatchamacallits can't be secured then they must be destroyed.
- See Thesaurus:thingy
any object the actual name of which the speaker does not know or cannot remember