I'm looking for a word which can be used in any situation to describe something in whatever way you want, i.e it's not a word and just fits in to places..., but is there an actual word which does that?
I’m looking for a word which can be used in any situation to describe something in whatever way you want, i.e it’s not a word and just fits in to places, but is there an actual word which does that?
There are quite a few, as a matter of fact. The most popular is 'thingamajig' with its many variants (thingamabob, thingummy, thingy, etc.), 'whatchamacallit', 'whaddayacallit'.
A useful neologism is 'gizmo' which should be used only for small, technological objects, but can have a wider usage, more or less like 'contraption', 'gadget', 'widget' etc.
The terms 'foo', 'bar', and 'baz' are meaningless, are used in computing by a small circle of adepts. They are used in listing, like letters: "let's take A, B, C"
For people, you probably know the use of 'Tom Dick and Harry', but remember that 'whatsit' is a magic word that can be used for anything, both for people and objects
Well, the first word that comes to mind is smurf.
It can act as just about any word you want, it can be use as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and the meaning is completely open.
Can you smurf that for me?
Who smurfed my smurfs?
What a smurf outfit! You'll attract a lot of smurfs with that!
A term which describes such words is "metasyntactic variable".
The most common metasyntactic variables (in my experience) are "foo", "bar", and (rarely, because the need for a third placeholder is relatively infrequent) "baz". From Wikipedia's article on metasyntactic variables:
When you have to invent an arbitrary temporary name for something for the sake of exposition, FOO is usually used. If you need a second one, BAR or BAZ is usually used;
With that said, I'd counsel you not to overdo it, lest you fall into the trap of Humpty-dumptyism (the practice of insisting that a word means whatever one wishes it to):
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."
From Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
I would start with the word blah. You can replace any bit of speech with "blah, blah, blah." It is often used in a snide way, however, for words that are tedious, or in mockery of another person who won't stop talking.
There are variations as well. I've heard blih, blip, bleh, blipity, and bibity. You can add suffixes as needed too. -ish, -y, and -ed would all work. Actually, any amount of humming and hawing while gesturing like an ape can replace any words. Too many intentional meaningless words, though, and it will just look like gibberish.
After that the wachamacallit's and whosit's and so forth can replace any noun, as was already mentioned.
I would like to bring up the curious usage of the F-word, too. It can be used as pretty much any part of speech with nearly any tone, except maybe reverent. Perhaps, with some clever wording, you could replace words with the F-word and your listeners would still understand you.
Really for the extreme flexibility you're looking for the closest word or phrase that I'm aware of that is in common use is "you know" which can be combined with "what", "who", "what I'm talking about" or a small description for claity.
So yesterday I went to the you know where we usually go and, well, you know who showed up, and he's wearing his typical you know, like, thinks he's so stylish and he's not, and then he pulls out one of those you know new phones and he's acting all like he's so you know, like just because he's got a phone he can just be such a you know what.
If we are going with fictional words, Og wins.
Whereas Smurf is always a positive word, and Marklar from South Park is always a noun, Og from The Secret World of Og is every word, except for (according to this random wiki entry) mathematical operators.
I have not read the book so I do not know if the part about mathematical operators is accurate. According to the Wikipedia entry the inhabitants only know one word: "Og!" (EDIT: I suppose operators can exist as such without their being words: Og + Og = Og. But if this is the case, then said word (Og) does not, as the OP asks, stand in for "whatever you want it to mean" unless, in Og, you can express + as a word (plus = Og)).
If you're in Hawaii, Da Kine is exactly what you're looking for.
It is used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb.
But do note, Da Kine is pidgin English.
I immediately thought of plain old
- Look at that thing
- I have one of those things
- There's a thing that fixes that
- That thing is on the desk
You used some in your question: "something," "whatever," etc., are placeholder words to allow whatever or something to be inserted at the readers discretion.
But actually, the first word that came to my mind was...
Which, as Wikipedia notes "According to the film [Mary Poppins (1964), which spawned the popular and exact term here, though variations existed as far back as 1931 according to the article], it is defined as "'something to say when you have nothing to say'".
It is in fact in the Oxford English Dictionary (login required), defined as "A nonsense word" (i.e. a word that has no meaning), though notes that in practice, used by children, "typically expressing excited approbation: fantastic, fabulous."
The word is in fact an adjective, and since it has no meaning, it therefore meets the request that it "describe something in whatever way you want" (though again, in usage it often has an idea of good connotations of "approval"—so the Random House definition on dictionary.com—since the song notes positive aspects experienced by the use of the word).
A somewhat English-sounding one that's common in Terry Pratchett novels is wossname.
That's a referential wossname. A gerund. Could be a gerund.
He had a cut all the way across his wossname.
I was thinking the word Placeholder could mean anything but it might be limited to just nouns.
Blank is my second choice.
If you want a word for an indefinite number, there are "umpteen" and "zillion" (for a very big number). Perhaps "n" doesn't count as word, but its ordinal form "nth" is quite often seen, especially in the phrase "to the nth degree". See
I think that the word
that might fit the bill. You can use it as a noun:
I want that.
Or disguise it as an adjective:
He looked like that.
Or even take the place of an adjective.
He was pretty. Yes, sir, that he was.
As commented below, its meaning usually refers to an antecedent, either verbal or non-verbal, but there are plenty of examples in English where the anaphora is left open:
Just like that, he disappeared. It's too expensive, and probably out-of-date at that.
He said that it was time.
I find the ambiguity fits the bill of "a word which can be used in any situation to describe something in whatever way you want". Let us see:
We have to agree that Peter was that. She was doing that. Yes, that. I don't have to say what that is.
And that is that.
Hodor. The only word uttered by character known by that name in George R. R. Martin's series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire. See http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hodor, http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Hodor, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxjw-w-V5k4.
Dude, an expression of shock, approval, sympathy, or other strong feeling: Dude! That's one expensive sandwich!
protected by Community♦ Aug 20 '14 at 23:48
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