Printable Version
Pronunciation: thing-gê-mê-bahb Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A thingamajig, doohickey, thingy, thingum or thingummy, whatsit, whatchamacallit—in other words, something for which the speaker does not know or cannot find the right word.

Notes: It was difficult to decide whether to run today's Good Word or its equally silly synonyms, listed in the definition above. The decision may have been swayed by the fact that today's word comes down to my nickname, plain old Bob which, I guess, doesn't have much meaning. Of course, we are free to make this word even sillier by extending it to thingamabobby or bobbing it to just thingummy. Not much else can be done with it.

In Play: Never let groping for a word slow down your chatter; always plug in today's Good Word or one of its synonyms to keep your speech flowing while you search for the right word: "Francis took a . . . a . . . a thingamabob—what do you call the thingy you jack the car up with? Anyway, he took one out of the trunk and changed the tire." With new products emerging ever more rapidly these days, we also come across more and more products before we know the names of them: "Millie bought some kind of thingamabobby that toasts a sandwich, makes coffee, and vacuums the floor all at the same time!"

Word History: Today's word came from a combination of two other silly words, thingum + bob. Thingum is thing + mmm, the sound some of us make when thinking. Thing made it to all the Germanic languages: Dutch ding, German Ding, and Swedish, Danish and Norwegian ting. Some etymologists have suggested it came from Proto-Indo-European ten- "to stretch", but I find that, well, a stretch. The Oxford English Dictionary lists 18 different words pronounced bob, but none of them seem related to today's Good Word. We do find it in at least one other silly word, discombobulate. Since it doesn't make sense in this word, either, we are safe to presume it makes no sense in any silly word. Well, what did you expect? That's why they are silly.

Dr. Goodword,

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