How would you describe this gadget in English?

In Hebrew, I would say "בית מנורה עם מתג", that is, "a lantern house with a switch"- perhaps English has a better way to put it.

enter image description here

  • 1
    It is a switched light (bulb) socket/holder/fitting. May 9 at 19:19
  • 1
    A better translation of "house" is "housing". May 9 at 21:26
  • 1
    Looks like some kind of “night light” to me. May 10 at 1:45
  • 1
    Why would there be a common term? The base is generic, you can plug any standard lightbulb into it.
    – Barmar
    May 10 at 22:15
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it's a very specific question and is more technical than about the English language. Plus, it's unlikely to be of use to future visitors. Jun 10 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


The object in the photo is a kind of fluorescent light. It is a a narrow tube (diameter ~1/2 cm) twisted helically to fit in the same space as a incandescent bulb that fits in a lamp socket. Traditional fluorescent lights are much longer and thicker and usually linear or one circle of 8" diameter.

These 'twisted' small fluorescent bulbs are referred to as

'compact fluorescent bulb'

presumably because they are so much more compact than traditional fluorescent bulbs (🎩 @Barmar).

As to the thing the bulb is screwed into (a bulb socket that plugs into an electrical socket), there is no one obvious single technical term for it. It is called by many names, which describe all the pieces. 'plug in light socket', 'light socket adapter', 'outlet to socket adapter', etc and 'with switch'.

'Plug' is the word used for electrical prongs to be inserted into the wall for electricity. 'Socket' is the holes in the wall that you plug the prongs into or the receptacle that you screw the light bulb into.

Notably, however, the bulbs are colloquially referred to as

'pig tail'

bulbs because their twisted appearance resembles the tight curl of a pigs tail.

A pigtail bulb

a pigtail bulb

A pigs tail

a pig's tail

  • 1
    I meant to ask not only about the bult but also about the "house that includes a switch" to which it is socketed.
    – somo
    May 9 at 20:05
  • @Barmar Yes, thank you. I only gave the colloquial version, as noted.
    – Mitch
    May 11 at 14:02
  • 1
    A socket is the thing in the wall from which you can get electricity. A plug is the thing (usually, but not always, on the end of a cable) which you put into the socket. Your description is exactly wrong. May 11 at 14:29
  • @MartinBonnersupportsMonica Those are electric sockets (also called "outlets") and plugs. But there are also lamp sockets, the things you put bulbs into.
    – Barmar
    May 11 at 15:00
  • 1
    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica fixed
    – Mitch
    May 11 at 16:11

It looks like a right-angle adapter with switch that takes a European-style receptacle to an E27 230VAC lamp socket.

Personally, I've never seen one of these made to North American standard (flat blades to an E26 Edison base).

I can find the Euro style ones on Chinese websites though. They call it a "plug adapter" with some added SEO terms sprinkled in there. Also a few that appear to be made to Japanese or Taiwan standards (which are compatible with North American, but not identical).

The bulb is typically called a "CCFL" or, more redundantly, a "CCFL lamp" (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (lamp)).

  • I have always heard of them (British English) as CFL - Compact Fluorescent Lamp. May 11 at 14:30
  • @MartinBonnersupportsMonica They are both valid (and familiar) terms. CFL is an older technology. I don't doubt that CCFLs may be referred to as CFLs, there is little difference from the consumer point of view. May 11 at 14:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.