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I recently told OP how to replace her 4-wire ceiling fan control switch. I got to the part where I described dis/connecting the fan's wires and the switch, and have included her questions in quotes:

  • to remove a wire from the switch: straighten one leg from a paperclip and shove it into the hole into which the wire is inserted while pulling gently on the wire until it releases. "Why the paperclip?" It releases some kinda clamp.
  • to insert a wire into the switch: first, ensure the wire is either solid-core (which, for this usecase, it almost certainly won't be) or soldered (aka tinned). "Why?" Because the wire must be stiff enough to insert into the clamp. "Doesn't the paperclip open the clamp?" One doesn't use the paperclip for insertion, just removal.

"What do you call those things? Not the switch, but the wire-clamping thing?" I have no clue. I know these slots or clamps are not specific to ceiling-fan switches, because I have encountered them in a few other electrical and electronic contexts, but I dunno what their "proper name" is, nor can I find that with a few minutes' random websearch. Your assistance is appreciated.

  • These are generally called push-in or push-lock terminals/connectors, though those terms are also used with other meanings. – Hot Licks Oct 28 '16 at 2:19
  • Stab-lock is another term that is sometimes used. – Hot Licks Oct 28 '16 at 3:12
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The "wire-clamping thing" is called a (screwless) push-in terminal (YouTube video). There are many possible references and images available. The cited video makes clear the role of the paperclip.

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