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thingy

[ thing-ee ]
/ ˈθɪŋ i /
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noun, plural thing·ies.

Facetious. any small item whose name is unknown or forgotten.

adjective

of, relating to, or characteristic of inanimate objects.

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Origin of thingy

1885–90 for def. 1; 1890–95 for def. 2; thing1 + -y2, -y1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does thingy mean?

Whachamacallit 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 thingy here. 

Thingy is sometimes used even if you know the name of the thing you’re referring to, as in I’ve got a whole boxful of these thingies—take as many as you want. 

The word is also sometimes used to refer to things that are not physical objects, such as events, types of media, or abstract concepts.

Thingy is often used with a modifier describing the kind of thing, as in Where’s that plastic thingy? or I have to attend a work thingy tonight. 

The word thinger can be used in the same way. There are several other similarly informal words that are used in the same way, including thingamajig, thingamabob, thingy, whachamacallit, whatsit, doohickey, and doodad.

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

Where does thingy come from?

The first records of the word thingy come from the 1700s from Scotland, where it was used to refer to little things. Later, in the 1800s, it entered more widespread use as a nonspecific way of referring to a thing. The suffix -y serves to make the word diminutive or informal.

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 thingy). Sometimes, it’s used just to be a bit funny, even if you actually know the name of the object you’re referring to.

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What are some other forms related to thingy?

  • thingies (plural)

What are some synonyms for thingy?

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

 

 

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

 

How is thingy used in real life?

Thingy 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 thingy!

Is thingy used correctly in the following sentence?

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

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