Word of the day – whatsit

When learning a new language, it’s useful to know how to say the equivalent of thing, whatsit, thingummy, whatchamacallit, etc, when you don’t know or can’t remember the word for something. This a strategy native speakers use frequently, so there’s no harm in using it when speaking a foreign language. It helps if you can also ask people how to say the word you’re searching for in their language. Such words are known as placeholders – they take the place of words you can’t recall.

Here are some placeholders in various languages include:

  • Catalan: daixonses, daixonsis, dallonses, dallonsis
  • Czech: tutu, toto, tata, tentononc
  • Danish: dims, dingenot, himstregims, tingest
  • Dutch: dinges, ding, dingetje
  • French: truc, machin, machintruc, machinchose, bidule, toutim
  • German: Ding, Dingens, Dingsbums, Dingsda
  • Italian: roba, coso, affare, aggeggio
  • Japanese: なになに (naninani)
  • Mandarin Chinese: 東西 [东西] (dōngxi), 東東 [东东] (dōngdōng)
  • Portuguese: treco, troço, bagulho, parada, coisa, trem, negócio
  • Spanish: cosa, chisme, fulano (of people), ése, ésa, cacharro