Did You Know?
English has a number of words that can be used as general terms for mechanical or electronic devices, including gadget, gizmo, widget, and contraption. In addition to their meaning, these four words also have a couple of other things in common. First, they are all relative newcomers to the language. The oldest, contraption, entered the language in the early 1800s. Second, the origins of all four are a bit of a mystery. While widget is believed to be an alteration of gadget, the origins of gadget are unknown—it didn't appear in print until later in the 19th century, and it is believed to have been used earlier among sailors. Gizmo sprang into American English in the mid-20th century from origins unknown. The word contraption may be a blend of contrivance (which can be used as another synonym of gadget), trap, and invention.
"In Connecticut, the Hartford Marathon Foundation worked with an engineering company to create a 40-foot-long drinking fountain for the finish line of its race. The contraption, known as the Bubbler, allows multiple people to drink at the same time and is estimated to have saved about 85,000 plastic bottles and wax cups since 2007, according to the foundation." — Sarah Mervosh, The New York Times, 10 Apr. 2019
"And scientists are creating devices to track the decay of icebergs. The small, cylindrical contraptions will be deployed in the Arctic, where they will sit atop ice as it breaks off and floats away from larger ice formations." — Laura Krantz, The Boston Globe, 9 May 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of contraption: d _ o _ _ d.VIEW THE ANSWER
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