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Thingamabob vs. Doohickey — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Urooj Arif — Updated on April 17, 2024
"Thingamabob" and "doohickey" are both informal terms used to refer to an object or gadget whose name is forgotten or unknown, but "thingamabob" might sound slightly more old-fashioned.
Thingamabob vs. Doohickey — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Thingamabob and Doohickey


Key Differences

"Thingamabob" is an informal term used when the speaker can't remember the name of an object or chooses not to specify it. Whereas, "doohickey" serves a similar purpose but may imply a small, possibly more intricate gadget or part.
While "thingamabob" has a playful, slightly archaic ring to it, "doohickey" often feels a tad more contemporary and technical. This may influence their usage depending on the speaker's age or context.
"Thingamabob" often appears in contexts where the object's function is not the central focus, simply serving as a placeholder for any unnamed item. On the other hand, "doohickey" is frequently used to describe parts or tools, suggesting a functional aspect even if its exact nature is unclear.
In everyday speech, "thingamabob" might be used more broadly for any type of item, whether it's a kitchen tool, a piece of furniture, or an abstract concept. Whereas, "doohickey" is likely to refer specifically to components or mechanical gadgets.
Both terms are typically used humorously or colloquially to lighten the tone of a conversation, with "thingamabob" perhaps evoking a more whimsical or dated ambiance, while "doohickey" could be preferred in slightly more technical or mechanical discussions.

Comparison Chart

Usage Context

General, for any unnamed object
Often for small gadgets or parts


Playful, slightly old-fashioned
Playful, somewhat technical


Low, very general use
Medium, implies a functional part


Less common in technical contexts
Common in technical settings

Age Appeal

May appeal to older generations
May appeal to more technical users

Compare with Definitions


A placeholder name for something forgotten.
I need to fix this drawer with some screws and a... thingamabob.


A small tool or gadget, especially an unspecified one.
I just bought a new doohickey for opening jars.


An unspecified or unknown object.
Can you pass me that thingamabob on the table?


Often related to technical or mechanical objects.
He’s always tinkering with some electronic doohickey.


Used humorously to refer to any item.
She decorated the room with candles, lanterns, and other thingamabobs.


Used informally in technical contexts.
We need to replace this doohickey to get the printer working again.


A general term for any device or tool.
This thingamabob, I think it's used in sewing?


Can refer to novel or innovative gadgets.
Check out this new doohickey—it can charge your phone in minutes!


Often used in a light-hearted manner.
All these thingamabobs in his garage, and he can't find his car keys!


Used to describe a mechanical part whose name is not remembered.
I think the doohickey in the engine came loose.


A thingamajig.


Something, especially a small device or part, whose name is unknown or forgotten.


(slang) A thing or person whose actual name is unknown or forgotten.


(slang) A thing used in a vague way to refer to something whose name one does not know or cannot recall
What does this doohickey do?


Something whose name is either forgotten or not known


Any object, usually a tool or other device, whose name is forgotten, or not known.


Something whose name is either forgotten or not known

Common Curiosities

Is "doohickey" used for specific types of gadgets?

Yes, "doohickey" is often used for small, functional gadgets or parts, particularly in a mechanical or technical context.

How do "thingamabob" and "doohickey" affect the tone of a conversation?

They add a humorous or light-hearted tone, making the conversation less serious and more playful.

Can "doohickey" refer to a software tool or feature?

While less common, "doohickey" can be used humorously to refer to software tools or features whose names are not immediately recalled.

Which term is older, "thingamabob" or "doohickey"?

Both terms are of uncertain origin but have been in use since at least the early 20th century, with "thingamabob" perhaps sounding a bit more archaic.

Is it appropriate to use "thingamabob" or "doohickey" in professional meetings?

Generally, it's better to avoid these informal terms in professional settings, unless the context is casual or creatively inclined.

What kind of objects does "thingamabob" typically refer to?

"Thingamabob" can refer to virtually any object, especially when the speaker cannot recall its name.

Can these terms be used in formal writing?

Both terms are informal and generally not suitable for formal writing, better suited to casual conversation.

What is the most common context for using "thingamabob"?

"Thingamabob" is commonly used in everyday domestic situations, like in homes or casual settings.

Are there synonyms for "thingamabob" and "doohickey"?

Yes, other synonyms include "whatchamacallit," "gizmo," and "widget."

Do these terms have different connotations in different regions?

Their usage and connotations might vary slightly by region, but both are recognized widely in English-speaking areas.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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