whatchamacallit

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A shortened version of “what you may call it” or “what you might call it”. United States, 20th century (recorded in 1921).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

whatchamacallit (plural whatchamacallits)

  1. (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.
    • 1969, J[ames] P[inckney] Miller; stage adaptation by F. Andrew Leslie, The People Next Door, New York, N.Y.: Dramatists Play Service, OCLC 1083232, Act II, page 42:
      You’re—you must be the whatchamacallit, huh? The peer.
    • 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.

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