[ doo-hik-ee ]
/ ˈduˌhɪk i /
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noun, plural doo·hick·eys.Informal.
a gadget; dingus; thingamajig.


Do You Know The Real Names Of These Doohickeys?

Play along . . . and guess the definition of these "thingys" before they're revealed.

Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of doohickey

An Americanism dating back to 1910–15; doo(dad) + hickey

Words nearby doohickey

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does doohickey mean?

Doohickey is a very informal word for an object whose name you don’t know, have forgotten, or can’t recall at the moment.

It’s often used to refer to gadgets or parts of things that might not even have a commonly known name, as in Before we attach the bracket, we have to insert this doohickey here. 

Doohickey is sometimes used even if you know the name of the thing you’re referring to, such as to be funny or to downplay the importance or value of an object, as in What, these old doohickeys? I’ve got a whole boxful of ’em. Take as many as you want. 

Doohickey is often used with a modifier describing the kind of thing, as in Where’s that plastic doohickey?

There are several other similarly informal words that are used in the same way, including doodad, dingus, thingy, thingamajig, thingamabob, whachamacallit, and whatsit.

Example: My kids got me one of those doohickeys that track your steps. What’s it called? A stepometer?

Where does doohickey come from?

The first records of the word doohickey come from around 1915. It’s a combination of doodad and hickey, which can both be used to mean the same thing.

Today, the word is especially used to refer to small, physical objects, but its ambiguous nature means it can be used for all kinds of things (which is really the point of a word like doohickey). Sometimes, it’s used just to be a bit funny, even if you actually know the name of the object you’re referring to.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to doohickey?

  • doohickeys (plural)

What are some synonyms for doohickey?

What are some words that share a root or word element with doohickey

What are some words that often get used in discussing doohickey?


How is doohickey used in real life?

Doohickey is very informal. It’s especially used in speech as a way for the speaker to refer to something whose name they don’t know or can’t remember at that moment.


Try using doohickey!

Is doohickey used correctly in the following sentence?

This darn doohickey doesn’t even work anymore—can you pick up another one at the store?

British Dictionary definitions for doohickey

/ (ˈduːˌhɪkɪ) /

US and Canadian informal another name for doodah (def. 1)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012