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Subject: x
Author: x   (guest,
Date: December 13, 2011 at 10:42:26 PM
Placeholder name From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. It needs additional citations for verification. Tagged since March 2009. It may contain excessive, poor or irrelevant examples. Tagged since December 2011. Its lead section may not adequately summarize its contents. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points. Tagged since June 2011. Look up whatshisname in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Look up thingy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Placeholder names are words that can refer to objects or people whose names are either temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which they are being discussed. "Whatchamacallit" is an example. Contents [show] [edit]Linguistic role These placeholders typically function grammatically as nouns and can be used for people (e.g., John Doe, Jane Doe), objects (e.g., widget) or places (e.g., Timbuktu). They share a property with pronouns, because their referents must be supplied by context; but, unlike a pronoun, they may be used with no referent—the important part of the communication is not the thing nominally referred to by the placeholder, but the context in which the placeholder occurs. Stuart Berg Flexner and Harold Wentworth's Dictionary of American Slang (1960) uses the term "kadigan" to describe placeholder words. They define "kadigan" as a synonym for thingamajig. The term may have originated with Willard R. Espy, though others, such as David Annis, also used it (or cadigans) in their writing. Its etymology is obscure—Flexner and Wentworth related it to the generic word gin for engine (as in the cotton gin). It may also relate to the Irish surname Cadigan. Hypernyms (words describing generic categories; e.g., "flower" for tulips and roses) may also be used in this function of a placeholder, but they are not considered to be kadigans. [edit]Placeholder names in English These words exist in a highly informal register of the English language. In formal speech and writing, words like accessory, paraphernalia, artifact, instrument, or utensil are preferred; these words serve substantially the same function, but differ in connotation. Most of these words can be documented in at least the nineteenth century. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story entitled "The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq"., showing that particular form to be in familiar use in the United States in the 1840s. In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, W. S. Gilbert makes the Lord High Executioner sing of a "little list" which includes: ... apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind, Such as: What d'ye call him: Thing'em-bob, and likewise: Never-mind, and 'St: 'st: 'st: and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who: The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you. Some fields have their own specific placeholder terminology. For example, "widget" in economics or "Blackacre" in law

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