I found a word 'cool toy' in the following sentence in today's New York Times article: 'Spending money on tablet computers may seem an extravagance, but some educators say they are more than just a cool toy.' What does 'cool toy' mean? What are typical items of cool toy, for instance? Are they electronic toys?

  • Always found ironic that english speakers use cool or hot depending on context to mean something fashionable. If you mix, it will give "The coolest toys are selling like hot cakes." – ogerard Apr 22 '11 at 16:56

Cool toy is not a technical term. Here, cool is an informal way of saying excellent or fashionable; see the definition number 7 at Merriam-Webster or Wiktionary. What is cool is highly subjective; different people will have different opinions. For example, some might say that iPhone is cool; others might disagree. A cool toy doesn't have to be electronic. For example, I think that LEGO is extremely cool. (But again, others might disagree and say that Playmobil is cooler.)

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    I think the expression cool toy in this context is describing grown-up 'toys', and not so much children toys. An iPhone is a cool toy, but LEGO is a cool toy. – awe Jan 6 '11 at 10:07
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    @awe: note the word "educators" or just have a look at the article. It is actually about schools handing out iPads to students. It's talking about kids, sixth graders, and even kindergartners getting their hands on iPads. – RegDwigнt Jan 6 '11 at 10:32
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    Those Playmobil people are simply wrong. You can ignore them. :) – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 7 '11 at 14:53
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    Playmobil never felt warm to me, but I would never have called them cool :-) – ogerard Apr 22 '11 at 16:52

In this context, toy is defined New Oxford American Dictionary as follows:

an object, esp. a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult

So, yes, an iPad, or similar fancy electronic gadget, could be considered a "cool toy". Other examples of toys are luxury cars or motorcycles.

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    I now understand 'cool toy' is a fancy, fashionable gadget providing amusement. I didn't imagine that the word 'toys' is applicable to an item like luxuary cars and motorcycles. – Yoichi Oishi Jan 6 '11 at 10:17
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    @Yoichi Oishi: Before gadgets became cool, "toy" was used to describe the expensive machines purchased by the rich. For example: "Check out that sleek Bugatti! That's one of our boss's new toys.", "With this new toy," he said, stroking the hull of his yacht, "I've just joined the big boys' club." – Jimi Oke Jan 6 '11 at 14:16
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    @Yoichi, @Jimi - also, the word "toy" is used ironically, as in Jimi's examples of a Bugatti and a yacht. These are items that are thousands or hundreds of thousands times more expensive that a child's rubber ball, yet have the same importance (or lack thereof) to someone fabulously wealthy. – John Satta Jan 6 '11 at 23:05

Cool here is used informally to mean fashionable. When the article says it is more than a cool toy, it means the toy is not just fashionable but has real value.

  • It may also mean it is not just a toy. – GEdgar Jul 2 '11 at 16:51

cool toy means a gadget that you just MUST have because it is is the latest 'thing', but you really don't need it.

In this context where it says more than just a cool toy, it means that it has a practical purpose that you can use for more meaningful tasks (not just to play with...).


A few month ago I said 'awesome gadget' than I walked around considering whether or not I should buy an iPad. It's a cool toy nobody really needs it, but my wife.

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