A Conversation for Gismos, Whatsits and Thingummy Doodahs - A Guide to Vague English

English probably holds the record...

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni

...for weird and vague words, but they do this in other languages, too.

Back when I was living in Greece, I wanted to improve my command of the language. I didn't get a lot of help from the locals.

Once, I sent a student down to the office with a two-pronged adapter cord. I said, 'Explain to the secretary that we need one that converts the two-pronged cord to a three-pronged outlet. Bring it back to me, and get her to tell you what it's called in Greek.'

Student returned with the correct adapter, and the information that it was called a 'tetoia'.

A thingamajig. smiley - rofl

English probably holds the record...

Post 2

Icy North

Toy Box mantioned a few more French vague words in Peer Review, but as you say, there is an English-speaking tendency to use a wide variety of them.

Tetoia sounds too useful to be vague smiley - smiley Do you know its derivation? I wonder if they had these in Ancient Greek smiley - smiley

English probably holds the record...

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni

smiley - rofl It just means 'something or other'. The Greeks were also prone to metaphor. For instance, I went into a long song and dance to buy a bottle opener. They called it klithi, a key. smiley - rolleyes

I'll bet Socrates said, 'Hand me that tetoia'. smiley - winkeye

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English probably holds the record...

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