Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
English vocabulary objects

Do you ever forget the name of something in English?

You may be in the middle of an English conversation and suddenly forget what you were trying to talk about.

It may be that sometimes there’s not a good name for something or you don’t know its name.

You will find yourself in this situation, and that’s where these words can come in handy especially if you don’t want to break the connection.

We’re going to look at some fun words you can use to describe something when you can’t remember the name of it.

This would also be an impressive IELTS skill that would get you a higher vocabulary score especially on IELTS Speaking Part 1.

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Today we have a listener question about a particular word dealing with this topic.

Dear Lindsay,

If you remember we listen to your podcast when I drive my kids to school everyday . We like your accent and your conversations with Michelle . Of course we also follow you on Instagram and add comments when we can. I’m hoping you can help me with a word that I heard and don’t understand.

I have heard the word “whatchamacallit” used before in a movie I was watching. I have no idea what this means, so I’m hoping you can help me. Please explain it to me if you would so that I know how to use it.

Thank you for your shows and all of your help!


Massoud Asil

Using This Fun Word

You may hear people say “whatchamacallit” often in conversation.

There may be different versions of this, and therefore it can add to the confusion.

This is more of a made up or fun word that you will hear people use, and so it can add a nice twist to conversation.

When you hear people say “whatchamacallit” this is about naming things that you don’t know how to name.

It may be that you can’t think of the name in that moment, and so you just throw this made up word out there.

When would you use this?

You could say it when you forget what to say or what something is called.

Examples of this can be helpful to see.

Lindsay: “Where’s that…oh man, where’s that whatchamacallit?”

Michelle: “Oh right the thing that connects those back two pieces?”

Lindsay: “Yes.”

Michelle: “I’ll find it.”

This could be used for something like tools, kitchen stuff, furniture tools, or other miscellaneous items.

This is useful for connection because it shows you are vulnerable and you don’t know a word.

It can be funny too and so it helps to bring people together with humor.

Other Ways To Say This

Though this can be a fun word to say, there are other ways to say the same thing.

What are some other things we can say to express a similar idea?

  • Whats it called: It’s like asking a question while you are talking. You are talking to somebody and then say this out loud, almost as if to hope the answer will come to you. You might say “I was thinking about, what’s it called…about the issue that we’ve been dealing with.”
  • Whatshername/whatshisname: It may not be the most complimentary, but sometimes we forget somebody’s name. If you have been in this situation then you know that it’s easy to just blurt this out. This is an interesting one because it may be used in an offensive way, like you’re almost downplaying somebody’s importance. You may hear this one but be careful about how you use it. An interaction using this one may go something like this–“Lindsay: “So what time is “whatshisname” coming over?” Michelle: “He has a name. It’s Paul. 5pm.”
  • Thingamabob: It’s almost exactly like whatchamacallit. This is used when you clearly can’t remember something in conversation. You might say something along the lines of “I like that thingamabob you have in your hair.”
  • Thingamajig: This is the exact same fun but functional word to use. When memory escapes you about something, then you use this word and it works quite well. It may sound like Lindsay: “Do you have that thingamajig you borrowed earlier?” Michelle: “You mean the wrench?” Lindsay: “Yes.”

These are all informal, fun, spunky, and good for when you don’t know what to call something.

You will hear them used quite often, and they can be fun for you to use.

These are rather nonsensical type of words, but they can be great to introduce into your conversations.


These are informal, but they are useful and fun.

People will be impressed if you use these words and they may even laugh.

Try to listen for them in conversation and see how people use them.

Then try them out, and because they are fun words, they will likely go over well.

Using words like this is a great way to make connections and add some fun to conversations!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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