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