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...then he picked up this watchamacallit and...

I've heard the word whatchamacallit more than once, but never found it in a dictionary. What is the right spelling, if it does exist? Is it acceptable in writing? Is it derived from "what you may call it", or "What you might call it?"

closed as off-topic by Janus Bahs Jacquet, MrHen, Kristina Lopez, aedia λ, tchrist Jan 24 '14 at 23:40

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  • With all due respect, try harder. :) – choster Jan 22 '14 at 22:50
  • I think it's an interesting question! :) I learned from it. – anongoodnurse Jan 22 '14 at 22:52
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    @Susan I agree it's interesting. I'm just, howdyasay, teasing. Admittedly, from the Google results you'd think it originated with the candy bar. – choster Jan 22 '14 at 22:56
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    It's what's called a nonce form, sort of a pronoun with a drape shape and a reet pleat. They occur in speech, and therefore have no official correct spellings. Spell'em like you hear'em. – John Lawler Jan 22 '14 at 23:00
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whatchamacallit, also whatchamacallum: n. Something whose name has been forgotten or is not known. Synonyms: dohickey, doohickey, doodad, doover (Australia), doomaflatchy, gizwiz, thingamabob, thingumabob, thingummybob, thingamajig, thingo (Australia), thingummy, whatchamahoozie, whatnot, whatsit.

1928, compressed form of phrase "what you may call it." Earliest recorded variant is what-calle-ye-hym, attested from late 15c.!

  • ‘Doomaflatchy’?! Who on earth says that? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 22 '14 at 23:35
  • "I can't find your da** doomaflatchy; you're going to have to find it yourself!" I hear that all the time... (no, not really). Synonyms were here ;) – anongoodnurse Jan 22 '14 at 23:40
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    There are now 3 users of "Doomaflatchy". – andy256 Jan 24 '14 at 1:48

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