Printable Version
Pronunciation: =bin Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (UK) Gadget, specialty tool, paraphernalia, odd piece, as 'the gubbins for fixing a computer'. 2. (Plural only) Scraps, fragments, giblets, whatchamacallits, thingamabobs, ingredients, as 'the gubbins that make iPhones work'. 3. (Plural form only) A simpleton, doofus, silly goose, ninny.

Notes: This word is seldom used in the singular. The plural, gubbins, may be used to refer to fish parings. In the third sense, "simpleton", it is occasionally used as though the plural form were singular and pluralized as gubbinses.

In Play: This word can refer to gadgets or parts of gadgets: "When Gene Poole took his bicycle apart to see how it works, several gubbins were missing when he tried to put it back together again." Gubbins is used in the idiom 'all that gubbins', which supplants stuff in British English: "Most women don't care about cars—suspension, torque, and all that gubbins—nor that men don't care about shoes and accessories."

Word History: Today's Good Word seems to be a mispronunciation of gobbon "piece, portion" that took root in the language. It was borrowed from Old French gobon "piece, chunk", made out of gobe "gob, lump" + -on, a noun suffix of unknown origin. Gobe comes from gober "to swallow, gulp down", as in gobemouche. This word was probably borrowed from a Celtic language like Scottish Gaelic and Irish, where gob means "beak, bill". It underlies goblet and gobble in both senses of the word. (Today our debt of gratitude is owed M. W. Gringa, who only this year joined our happy band of contributors.)

Dr. Goodword,

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