Please suppose a woman who doesn't throw not necessary stuff away even after several years. Once when her son opens the storage room's door, he faces lots of not a confused mixture of old things of no use and value. He says:

Mom! The storage is full of.........but I don’t know why you don't have the heart to throw any of them out.

a) junk

b) odds and ends

c) bric-a-brac

d) mishmash

I would appreciate it if you could let me know which one of the above listed words sounds natural in this self-made sentence? I guess in spite of the fact that they all work here (based on dictionary definitions), there should be a fixed, more common term to refer to this type of things or at least one of these four choices sounds more common / natural. If so, then please let me know what is that term / word?

  • 4
    The storage room is full of junk. That's what you'll hear 96 out of 100 times. The other times you'll hear garbage or, if it's not a kid talking to his mom, crap or shit.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


The first three are all possible, but express a different attitude to how useful the things might be.

"Junk" implies that it's all useless;

"Odds and ends" implies that at least some of it might be useful, perhaps for mending things, or recycling into something.

"Bric-a-brac" implies that it might be of value to somebody, perhaps to a collector.

Of course, these might not be meant literally: in context, we might say "junk" even if we know there is some valuable stuff there, but we just want it gone. I think "junk" is the most likely word in context.

"Mishmash" is different. I wouldn't use it in this context at all. To me it's not a description of physical objects, but of how something is organised (or not organised). It's usually "a mishmash of (something)"

  • I think "bric-a-brac" also requires that the objects be loosely related and not useful. E.g., different types of figurines (glass, porclain, etc.) are bric-a-brac since they're decorative. Different types of power tools aren't since they're useful. A mix of figurines and power tools aren't related.
    – bgiles
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:31
  • I think "mishmash" also requires objects to be used in a constructed object and be somewhat related. You can make a furniture out of a mishmash of different visible woods (pine legs but walnut arm rests and cherry accent, not just a walnut veneer over a pine core.) Or a meat pie from a mishmash of beef and lamb. However you wouldn't refer to a sofa as being a mishmash of a wood frame and leather upholstery since the 'frame' and 'upholstery' are separate constructions with in the sofa construction.
    – bgiles
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:35

Cruft is the word I would use.

In tabletop board games, more valuable pieces become available as the game goes on. Toward the end of the game, a player might have a stack of "cruft": pieces that were valuable earlier in the game, but now are not very valuable compared to the new pieces.

Thus, "cruft" implies that the storage unit contains things that used to be useful and valuable, but are now obsolete.



All those things are cluttering up the storage cupboard. By definition, if something is useful, it isn't clutter, it is merely being stored.

  • Clutter is useful but it doesn't need to be as visible as it is. E.g., the stapler on your desk is clutter since it could be kept in a drawer. The mixing bowls that I only use once a year are clutter in the over-the-counter kitchen cabinets since I could store it in the back of the under-the-counter kitchen cabinets and make room for something I use more often. It can also be useful but unnecessary, e.g., it's a duplicate or used with something you no longer own. That's the sense used by the "eliminate your clutter" books.
    – bgiles
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:25

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