There are many things today that have the term "smart" attached to them. These are most often electronics devices or machines that have embedded computer hardware and software. Some of these items have been grouped into an idea called "Internet of Things" (IoT). Such items include cars and vehicles with built in (self-driving cars), smart home items like wi-fi controlled thermostats, climate control, smart refrigerators, etc.

Without getting into politics, these items have been heavily marketed to the world as "good" and thus, many people want these these things so they are ubiquitous in big-box stores like Lowes and Home Depot. In fact 2018 was the last time I saw a window air conditioner available without built-in wifi.

But, there are others who see a serious danger to letting computers control your home, not the least of which is hackers holding you hostage for a ransom. What happens when ransomware infects your smart fridge?

Smart air conditioner controlled by phone app


I felt giving all that background was necessary to help you best clearly understand what I'm about to ask with no confusion. So, here we go:

1.a) What is the searchable buzzword term for household appliances that either are not equipped with wifi connection out-of-the-box, or that have been DIY customized / downgraded by their owners?

I know there is a term "luddite", but that isn't specific enough for this type. There is a relation between the right to repair concept as well.

Here is part two of the question:

1.b) What is the term for someone who disables the physically, manually, disables or removes the Wi-Fi circuitry in their smart appliances?

And finally, a third variation of the same question:

1.c) What is the term for the DIY project of disabling Wi-Fi in your smart devices?

I think "dumb appliances" is the best term going, but are there any synonyms or better alternatives?

  • Privacy-preserving device or practices?
    – banuyayi
    Oct 1, 2022 at 13:22
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    You are looking for a retronym for "smart phone/device". I do't believe one has so far emerged.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 1, 2022 at 14:27
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    I think Peter Jennings has it right for the 1st question. As to people who disable WiFi, it would depend on why they do it. There are various terms for excessively paranoid people who worry about state surveillance (tinfoil hats). But in many countries you may not be paranoid - it may be rational. Such people might be security-minded or private.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 1, 2022 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


I don't believe there are specific words for any of your 3 questions.
1.a) A device not equipped with wifi connection out-of-the-box might be described as Not wiFi enabled but your idea of dumb is just as good. If the user has tampered with it then it is WiFi disabled.
1.b) I suppose it depends upon the reason why a person disables the WiFi. It might be because they want to repurpose the device, improve the security, have no need for the feature or are just plain paranoid! Whichever it is there is no specific word(s) that spring to mind.
1.c) I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. But disabling the WiFi is just about all you can say.
You might use words such as "tinkering", "tampering" or "hacking" in some circumstances,but they don't cover all situations.

  • 1
    Dumb is definitely the common, generic term: there are a lot of Google results for dumb appliance, e.g. Popular Mechanics.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 1, 2022 at 14:55
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    "Tampering" is judgemental. It normally refers to unauthorised fiddling. Maybe the manufacturer might say that, but if you bought it, it's yours to configure as you like,even if that's not how it was meant to be used
    – Chris H
    Oct 1, 2022 at 16:35
  • Following Peter Jennings' and @StuartF's comments I searched and whereas 2 years ago I could barely find an article on "Dumb devices", recently I found at least 10. Accepting this as the answer. Nov 2, 2022 at 11:01
  • @ChrisH I did say "in some circumstances". To some extent it depends on what you have done and how it affects the performance and safety of the appliance. If you disable a safety feature then tampering probably fits the bill. I think tampering usually applies to illegal or detrimental modifications whether you own it or not. I have also added hacking as another possibility. But all these words should not be taken out of the context of what was done, why, and what results it has, both intentional and unintended. Nov 2, 2022 at 11:22

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