Conch noun
Remote Control. From the shell in Lord of the Flies, the person holding it having the authority to speak at council meetings.

I may be pushing the envelope in my own usage (I'm happy to say "I have the conch" simply to (re)assert my right to speak and be heard in any discussion context, not just "council meetings"). But for no particular reason I just wanted to convey that without the somewhat literary reference. I couldn't think of an alternative metaphoric usage.

Did we have a generic term for such a symbolic "talisman/totem" before conch?

  • 1
    You mean you don't want to compare your colleagues to a murderous pack of feral schoolboys? Why ever not? – Nate Eldredge Sep 14 '14 at 5:07
  • There was the "talking pillow" in one of the first episodes in the TV series Breaking Bad. A great scene. Unfortunately, I don't know if the expression "I have the talking pillow" is commonly used. – Mari-Lou A Sep 14 '14 at 10:17

There is the talking stick used by various groups of North American indigenous people

The talking stick, also called a speaker's staff, is an instrument of aboriginal democracy used by many tribes, especially those of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast of North America. The talking stick may be passed around a group or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.


According to the article, the practice has been adopted by other groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America.

  • I can't deny that having the floor is far more common than having the talking stick - but I specifically wanted a "physical, handleable" object that could in principle be passed around (even if in practice there is no actual object in metaphorical usages). So this one does it for me, thanks. – FumbleFingers Sep 14 '14 at 21:59

I believe having the floor is in common usage, in British and American English at least. However, this doesn't usually actually involve any physical token.

"Ladies, gentlemen! Some decorum please! The Honourable Member for Easthampton has the floor and will now begin to bring his point to a close".

  • I have only heard that used in a legal (Congress and courts) context in AmE – raptortech97 Sep 13 '14 at 23:39

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