Work, the what’s-its-name of the thingummy and the thing-um-a-bob of the what d’you-call-it.
– P. G. Wodehouse

Fortunately, I had all this wreckage to build a space swapping doodah-thingy-whatsit.
– The Sarah Jane Adventures (TV series)

English has several words for a thing or person whose name you don’t know or can’t remember or can’t be bothered to say. For example:

  • whatchamacallit
  • whatsit
  • gadget
  • doodah
  • thingy
  • thingamajig
  • thingummy
  • so-and-so
  • oojamaflip
  • what’s-her-name and what’s-his-name

There are other examples in the OED and Macmillan Thesaurus and Wiktionary. You can also read about vague expressions.


Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Green’s Dictionary of Slang is completely free to everybody from today, Guy Fawkes Night.

Mr Green explains why here. Previously the definitions were available to all, but the examples required a subscription. Now you can see the examples too.

For example, a Norfolk breakfast is no breakfast at all:

1939 Beds Times 25 Aug. 6/2: In the eastern Counties they galk [talk?] about giving the pigs a ‘Norfolk breakfast’ on Sunday mornings — which means they get no breakfast.

Many of the terms are, of course, unsuitable for polite company.

The three volumes of the 2010 print edition can be consulted in UEA Library.



  • World Cup 2018: ‘Gutted’ Harry Kane says England gave it their all as millions of Three Lions fans suffer World Cup heartbreak once more (The Sun)
  • Holly Willoughby and Kate Hudson lead an army of ‘gutted‘ stars on social media after England’s crushing World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia (Daily Mail)
  • ‘I’m absolutely gutted’: disappointed England fans speak of World Cup hurt from Russia (iNews)
  • Your Favourite Musicians Are Gutted About The England Result (Clash Magazine)
  1. A gutted fish is a fish whose guts – internal organs – have been removed, so that it can be cooked.
  2. A gutted house is a house whose interior has been emptied or destroyed, usually by fire.
  3. If a person is gutted, they are bitterly disappointed. This is British slang. The adjective is normally used in the predicative position (after a verb like be, become, grow, look or seem). However, the first two newspaper headlines are using it attributively (before the noun).