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WCBS 880 Interview: What’s That Thingamajig Called?

Shoelaces (file / credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Shoelaces (file / credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Wayne-Cabot-talent Wayne Cabot
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - Dr. Rod Evans, a philosophy teacher at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has put together a new book with the unfamiliar terms for familiar things.

“Give me one of those things that we don’t know what the heck we’re talking about, but we should know what it’s called,” WCBS 880 anchor Wayne Cabot asked.

“Okay. The tips on shoelaces are aglets – those plastic tips,” says Dr. Evans. “How about this? The brown spots on a banana peel – those are known as sugar spots.”

“They’re not bruises?” asked Cabot.

LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot With Dr. Evans

“Well, they could be bruises, but… the ones I’m talking about are more like freckles,” answered Dr. Evans. “Or how about this? How about the gap between the teeth of, let us say, Madonna or David Letterman or Ernest Borgnine, that’s an example of a diastema.”

“I’m sure orthodontists all know that, but we regular civilians have no clue and this is a collection of all kinds of things like that,” said Cabot. “Do you have any examples of words that we really should know and should be part of our vocabulary, but are not?”

“It’s hard to say, because, I mean, these are things that you could probably create circumlocutions for, but I think this stuff is very entertaining though,” answered Dr. Evans. “For example, in bowling, if you have a random array of pins, that’s ‘Grandma’s teeth‘.”

“Now, bowlers would know this?” queried Cabot.

“Some of them would, yes,” said Dr. Evans. “How about in archery? The outer rim of the target is called the petticoat. In baseball, have you ever heard the term ‘meathand’ for the ungloved or the gloveless hand?”

“I have never heard that,” said Cabot.

“Some sports fans would know that,” said Dr. Evans. “And then philtrum, have you heard of philtrum?”

“Yeah. A philtrum is the name of the vertical groove under one’s nose,” answered Cabot.

“There you go. So, you know some of these,” said Dr. Evans.

“I’m cheating,” admitted Cabot. “I’m looking off your notes. I have to be honest.”

Morton’s Toe is a condition people have when the toe next to the big toe is longer than the big toe. That’s called Morton’s Toe,” said Dr. Evans.

“Did you have a rasher this morning?” asked Cabot.

“Oh yes, a slice of bacon is a rasher,” said Dr. Evans.

“Who calls a slice of bacon a rasher? Where on planet Earth does that happen?” asked Cabot. “You see, these are the things that we can impress our friends, or perhaps they’ll look at us like we’re a little bit odd,” said Cabot. “You must get some strange looks when you drop these terms in conversation.”

“Well, I occasionally do, but guess what? People are also delighted by them,” answered Dr. Evans. “For example, there’s a whole section of the book on animal groupes. For example, a prickle of porcupines or a coalition of cheetahs or a business of ferrets and how about a bloat of hipposGoogleganger is a person who happens to have the same name you do and you find that out as you’re egosurfing.”

Evans’ book is called “Thingamajigs and Whatchamacallits: Unfamiliar Terms for Familiar Things” and is available on amazon.com.