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What do you call a thing that you temporarily cannot remember the name of in American English? Lets suppose the following scenario. What would you use to fill in the blank?

Give me that. . . umm. . . you say its name. . . shoot. . . I cannot remember its name. . . __________.

a) widget
b) gadget
c) thingy
d) thing magic

Is there any other common choice for this concept in AmE? I need to know the most common one.

  • I'm not certain about this question in its present form, but it might be better if rephrased as "what is the most common word used in English for this concept"? That's actually answerable with some work. (Or should be, anyway.) – Jonathan Garber Oct 1 '14 at 18:30
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    I'd be more likely to use whatchamacallit, whatsit, or thing than any of your choices. And I've never heard of a thing magic. Is that a typo (or a spelling-incorrection) for thingamajig? – Peter Shor Oct 1 '14 at 18:36
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    I mostly use thingy-ma-bob... – Bobo Oct 1 '14 at 23:48
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I don't know that there is a MOST common one. There are several in common usage, and I suspect different regions of the country use different ones. Where I live, you'd most likely hear:

  • Thingy
  • Thing-a-ma-bob
  • Thing-a-ma-jig
  • Doohickey
  • Doodad
  • Whatchamacalit

I've never heard "thing magic" before. Gadget and widget are used, but I think they are more specific. Gadget would be used for a small machine or toy. It can also be used to describe a collection of little tools, like "I have a whole drawer of kitchen gadgets", that you know the names of, but don't want to list. A widget would usually be used to refer to a piece that is used to build something. Again, I think it is more likely to be used when you don't want to bother naming the thing, or want to talk about pieces of something in general terms.

  • Also "whosi-whatsi" officequotes.net/no3-16.php – Steven Penny Oct 2 '14 at 2:12
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    "thing magic" is probably a misheard thing-a-ma-jig – slebetman Oct 2 '14 at 7:17
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    "Thing" or "thingy," definitely. – T.J. Crowder Oct 2 '14 at 7:33
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    "Hurry up. Move the thing! Um... that other thing. Move it!" -Vizzini, The Princess Bride – Mazura Oct 2 '14 at 7:37
  • @slebetman - or, maybe even an auto-correct of the same. I hadn't thought of that connection! Good insight. – michelle Oct 2 '14 at 12:47
4

Wikipedia has a list of such terms, of which I’d highlight the following:

Note that some of these are only appropriate for particular types of things, like an electronic gizmo or shiny gewgaw.

I think the most common and broadly applicable term is “thing” or “thingy”:

usage graph

As others have commented, “thing magic” is not used, but sounds very similar to “thingamajig” which is quite common as a placeholder name for an object.

2

I'd say

  • Thing
  • Thingy
  • That ... That... (points excessively, swearing)

Or, rarely

  • Whatchamacallit
  • Thing-a-ma-bob

When referring to objects.

It should be mentioned that if referring to a person, I'd say

  • What's-her-face
  • What's-his-face
1

Nobody's mentioned whadayacallit, which is the word I'd be most likely to use. Could be a regional difference.

  • This would be better as a comment rather than a full answer perhaps. – JMB Oct 2 '14 at 9:24
1

I've often used

gizmo

It has the benefit of being even more popular than thingy

Source: link

  • Gizmo usually refers to some technologically advanced object. – 200_success Oct 2 '14 at 4:29
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From my collection: business gizmo matter mess shebang stuff thing thingummy things.

protected by Community Oct 2 '14 at 1:00

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