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Knowledge, Uncategorized, Words

Is it a Gadget or a Gizmo?

Hand me that thingamabob over there. If you had a dad who had a workshop in the basement, or the garage, then you probably heard this phrase a lot.  I know I did. And, I think my dad assumed I had psychic abilities.  I didn’t.  And my tool naming skills never quite made it above the novice level.

I was a little girl who played with dolls and tea sets, and yet I wanted to know the difference between a wrench and a hacksaw.  After all, I was somewhat of a tomboy, and I did want to please my dad. But…tools just weren’t my thing. (Still aren’t). So I just called everything a gadget. Or a gizmo. I mean, there isn’t any difference, right?

Actually, no, there isn’t.

Gadget – a small tool such as a machine that has a particular function, often thought of as a novelty; a gizmo

The origin of the word is not clear. As a nautical term in the 1850’s it was used as a placeholder word for something, anything really, whose name you have temporarily forgotten or never knew.

Another story says the word was “invented” by the company of Gaget, Gauthier, and Cie, the men who helped build the Statue of Liberty. They made a small, desktop replica and named it a …gadget.

Yet another theory states that it is a derivation of the French word “gagee,” a small tool or accessory.

Gizmo, on the other hand, has no known origin. Like a lot of slang terms, somebody made it up, and somehow, it became common language. If anyone knows about a course on the study of slang words, clue me in.  That’s something I’d love to sink my teeth into.

Back to the present day, a gadget is also used in the IT industry. It is a computer program that provides a variety of services without needing a separate independent application to be launched for each one. Something like JavaScript. Kind of a “one man band” of a program. Sorta like a cartoon character I loved, back when I was a tomboy…..Inspector Gadget. Aptly named, wouldn’t you say?

Now, gizmo, is a whole other cinematic entity. Anyone remember the formula for turning him into a gremlin?


If you are a writer, trivia will enhance your story telling by using interesting bits of knowledge. The trick is to find the bits that you need for your particular subject.  Hard to do? Yes. Easy to solve that problem? Definitely. Contact me and let me do the work for you. Go to this page. You’ll be glad you did.



About ejgresearch

As soon as I retired I hit the road. I am now a nomad traveling the USA in a minivan. This blog is my travelogue / journal about those travels.


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