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or whatchamacallit, what-you-may-call-it, what-do-you-call-it

[hwuhch-uh-muh-kawl-it, hwoch-, wuhch-, woch-] /ˈʰwʌtʃ ə məˌkɔl ɪt, ˈʰwɒtʃ-, ˈwʌtʃ-, ˈwɒtʃ-/
noun, Informal.
an object or person whose name one does not know or cannot recall.
Origin of whachamacallit
1940-45; spelling of what you may call it reflecting affrication of t before y and reduction of vowels; compare similar metric pattern and internal əmə in rigamarole, thingamagig


[hwuhch-uh-muh-kawl-it, hwoch-, wuhch-, woch-] /ˈʰwʌtʃ ə məˌkɔl ɪt, ˈʰwɒtʃ-, ˈwʌtʃ-, ˈwɒtʃ-/
Also, what-do-you-call-it
[hwuhd-uh-yuh-kawl-it, hwod-, wuhd-, wod-] /ˈʰwʌd ə yəˌkɔl ɪt, ˈʰwɒd-, ˈwʌd-, ˈwɒd-/ (Show IPA)
. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for what-do-you-call-it
Historical Examples
  • The what-do-you-call-it is so well done, and I like that broad effect.

  • Claudia shall do the Venus business, and I'll be a what-do-you-call-it?

  • I suppose the what-do-you-call-it massacre was in one of your little wars on the frontier.

    The Letters of her Mother to Elizabeth W. R. H. (William Rutherford Hayes) Trowbridge
  • If I hadn't known him since he was so high, I'd wish he had the what-do-you-call-it seizures instead of the other man.

    Quisant Anthony Hope
  • College is out of the question for him, poor boy, unless he entered himself as a what-do-you-call-it?

    A Charming Fellow, Volume I (of 3)

    Frances Eleanor Trollope
  • Im quite as anxious as you are to keep the accursed minions of the what-do-you-call-it away from Rosivera.

    The Search Party G. A. Birmingham
  • My wife admitted that when I sawed a board across the piano-stool and sawed the what-do-you-call-it all out of the cushion.

    Remarks Bill Nye
Word Origin and History for what-do-you-call-it



1928, compressed form of phrase "what you may call it." Earliest recorded variant is what-calle-ye-hym, attested from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for what-do-you-call-it



An unspecified or unspecifiable object; something one does not know the name of or does not wish to name; gizmo, thingamajig: lady in a robe and a white whatchamacallit around her head appeared

[1920+; what-d'ye-call-it is attested from 1573, and what-ye-call-'em as London slang in 1710]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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